This week has been a week of saying goodbye. To my friends, my editors, my colleagues and even my subjects. I’ve been working for a few months now on an Autism series. I’ve spent a lot of time with these families, sometimes hours just to get 10 seconds of footage that I needed. Its kinda new for me because its actually a video project, the photos were secondary. But what I realized when they all called or messaged me today to say goodbye, was how much they’ve inspired me and become a part of my life here in Texas.

The mothers in my Autism series are incredibly brave, strong and amazing women. They juggle full time jobs, providing for their families, daily duties and they take care of the very specific needs of their Autistic child. Autistic individuals need structure, stability and constant care. They are intelligent, focused and prefer to be occupied with something. The children in the series are in physical therapy, speech therapy, sports classes, after school activities and everyday regular school or in some cases, special school for Autistic kids. These children are going to need constant care and attention for the rest of their lives. They will probably never go to college, get married, drive a car or be independent in any way. They won’t be able to cook a meal, go to the store or pay bills. If their parents can’t afford to give them a full time nurse the rest of their lives, they’ll have to be there themselves. These mothers not only embrace this challenge but they completely own it. They know their lives have been changed forever.

To see these strong women stepping up and taking care of their kids, planning for their future, structuring every moment of every day around their kid’s needs, just to make their children’s lives a little completely floors me. I feel touched and honored to have been let into their lives, their struggles and their joys these past few months. I have never been so affected by a story I’ve done.

I wish them the best in their lives and really truly hope they update me on their kid’s progress in future years. One of the mothers txt’d me today just to tell me that her four-year-old was able to say actual words: mama, papa, num num, yes, no, one, two, three, four and five. When I started the series a few months back, he was completely non-verbal. It was a huge milestone in his life and I was touched she wanted to share it with me.

Its days like these I just know, I will never love anything as much as I love being a photojournalist.