CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - After losing a son just thirty minutes after he takes his first breath, the few moments you have with him captured in photographs are priceless.
Then you find out the camera holding those few precious memories was stolen, and those images are gone.
That's exactly what happened to a Charlotte family.
Two weeks ago, "Now I lay me down to sleep" photographer Faith Massey took photos of baby Amari's first and final moments. The organization captures professional photos of newborns who likely won't make it out of the hospital.
"It's something that can't be replaced. It's something that is going to live in their hearts forever but the memory fades very quickly. Especially when you only have a few hours with your child," Massey said.
As fierce as the pain was for the baby's mother, April McLean took comfort in the fact that those short, but sweet moments with her son were captured forever on film.
"We photographed him with all of the family members, his first bath, did some video images of him and his mother," Massey said.
But that relief was short lived.
"The next day I had looked in my back seat and my camera was gone," Massey said.
Massey says her heart sank when she realized her camera bag, holding Amari's pictures, was stolen from her own garage.
"I have insurance and I can replace that equipment, but I can't replace those images," Massey said.
McLean released this statement to WBTV:
"Words cannot explain how I'm feeling right now, After loosing Amari, Faith helped make sure that we captured all of Amari's precious moments on her camera shortly after I gave birth til the moment he took his last breath. To find out that the camera has been stolen with the memory card full of the last moments with my baby, broke my heart. I've cried til I can't cry anymore. The only picture with me holding my baby is in that camera and it was only 5 mins I was able to hold him. So PLEASE, if you are the person who took this camera PLEASE at least turn the memory card in to wbtv news. You may do it anonymously. At this point I don't care who you are, To lose my child and to lose the only pictures we have of Amari can't even be explained. Just hurts and heartbroken. Please Just give me back the last moments I had with my child."
Massey is now on a mission and is determined to find the photos for McLean and her family.
"To lose your son and then lose the only images of him a few days afterwards is probably more than she can even process right now," Massey said.
Massey knows the pictures are out there somewhere, she just hopes they're returned to comfort a hurting heart.
"Have a heart for this family and know that these are the only images they have of their child," Massey said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are investigating, but Massey is really just asking for the memory card back, no questions asked.
Massey's camera is described as a Cannon 6D with a 50mm 1.2 USM lens. The camera bag also had a 100mm 2.8 macro and 85mm 1.8 USM lens inside, along with other camera gear totaling over $5,000.
If you have any information, email Faith at firstname.lastname@example.org.