Creepy or beautiful?
A series of photos are causing a stir on the internet, with some saying they’re a beautiful homage to a Brazilian man’s late wife while others call them creepy.
Rafael Del Col, 36, wanted to do a tribute to his late wife when their daughter was 3 years old. Tatiane “Tati” Valques was 29 when she died in a car accident in 2011. She was 6 months pregnant with the couple’s second child. Their daughter, Raisa, was just a year old.
Del Col said he spent a year of deep grief and figuring out “this fatherhood thing, you know,” and his role raising Raisa.
Searching for a purpose, becoming a widower father
“How do you parent a daughter as a father without the presence of a mother,” Del Col wondered. “I kept searching and searching on how to do this, but I could never find anything.”
One evening when Raisa was almost 4, she was admiring an engagement photo of her mother when he had an idea. “Watching her, running her little fingers down her mother’s hair in the photos, I knew just the way to honor her.”
The next day, Del Col talked to his brother, the photographer who had taken his engagement photos. It didn’t take long for the brother to “agree through tears to do this special shoot for Raisa and I.”
Bringing wife’s larger-than-life memory alive for his daughter
In 2014, Del Col said family members helped collect various items Tati wore for their engagement photos — a pearl necklace, white high heels, her dog — and similarly matching clothing for Raisa to wear.
“This photo shoot was meant for all three of us — well, four of us, I mean,” Del Col said. “It was a journey of healing, of (finding out my) identity without my wife’s physical presence.”
It was during this special photo shoot for his daughter that he felt like he finally knew how his wife would have wanted them to raise Raisa. “I will always be papa, and Tati will always be mommy,” Del Col said as he choked tears back.
“But beside my responsibilities with my princess, I need to deal with feelings of grief, and the loss of my partner with whom I lived for 10 wonderful years.”
A renewed spirit — a father’s shoes
“It’s clear now, Tati would have wanted me to only fill the father’s shoes, but in her absence to show Raisa what a loving father, a man, looks like,” Del Col said. Even if it meant recreating happy moments with his wife to keep her memory alive for Raisa, who is almost 7 now.
Del Col said Raisa doesn’t question her mother’s love for her, although brief, because she knows who her mother was through this experience. “It was important to me that Raisa could see her spirit, her love,” he said.
When the photographer finished the special photo project, he put it in a slideshow with music before handing it over to Del Col. “I cried a lot when I watched it,” he said. “I still cry a lot watching it.”
The music clip the photographer added was “Tati’s song, and now it’s Raisa’s song,” he said, noting the song in the slideshow is second only to Disney’s “Let it Go,” from the movie “Frozen.”
Courtesy of: Rafael Del Col
Moving forward 6 years later
“God has been taking care of a very special way of us, guiding us, showing us what to do,” Del Col said, adding he now feels at peace.
He started a blog to journal his experiences as a widowed man, called O diário da Raisinha (or “Little Raisa’s diary”). Today he said he is focusing on “the new adventures first grade will bring Raisa and I, but we know Tati is watching us.”