Sarah Stultz: Take plenty of photos, videos of life’s events

Published 10:51 pm Monday, June 12, 2017

Nose for News, By Sarah Stultz

I was nervous, scared and excited all at the same time as I left the Eddie Cochran car cruise-in Friday evening and headed toward downtown Albert Lea.

I had received a message that a video had been completed that featured my daughter, Sophie, who died 11 1/2 months ago.

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The video, created by Freeborn County Arts Initiative President Elisha Marin, was filmed July 1, 2016, on Sophie’s last day at Kids College, an organization that Sophie attended for children with a love of the arts. It also happened to be on the day before the crash that ultimately took her life.

From what I was told, it almost seemed like a coincidence at the time that Elisha chose to film the young students that Friday.

Now, as I have had a chance to think more about it, I have to think it was something more.

The video was planned to be shown at the open house for the art show in Sophie’s honor that took place at the Arts Initiative on Sunday.

It had been several months since I had heard about the video, and I couldn’t wait to see it. Having said that, though, as the date drew closer to the open house, I knew it would be difficult to watch.

I came in with my son, Landon, and sat down in a room with Elisha and Susie Crane, one of Sophie’s art teachers, where they had the video set up.

I took a deep breath, and before I knew it, there she was on the screen — like nothing had ever happened.

She wore a pink shirt with cameras on it and flowered Bermuda-length shorts. Her long hair had been cut to her shoulders just a few weeks before, and she appeared focused. She and the other girls in the class were listening as sumi-e painter Dee Teller of Faribault explained about her art.

Sophie somehow had taken on an interest in horses in her artwork and had connected with Dee, who also incorporates many horses into her work.

As the video went on, the children created their own piece, and then later there were photos of Sophie as she created some art projects and after she had found and painted rocks as part of the Albert Lea Rocks initiative.

It was an emotional experience in many ways watching that video. It was as if no time had passed.

Two days later at the art show open house, I watched the video at least a half dozen more times as friends, family and other residents came in for the reception. On several occasions, I just could not peel myself away from it, and found myself coming back to watch it again and again.

Thank to Elisha and Susie, not only for the video, but for organizing the wonderful show in her honor. As I find myself writing to work through my grief, it was neat to see how others have used art to process their emotions.

A special thank you also to Dee for coming down and sharing her expertise first-hand with those in attendance at the reception.

If you haven’t had a chance to see the show, it will be up through the rest of the month. I encourage you to check it out.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.