What I Learned From Yosra El-Essawy: The Death of Beyonce’s Photographer

October 28, 2014  |  


I’m having a pretty hard time starting this post about Yosra El-Essawy off…

Yosra El-Essawy came into most of our consciousness because media outlets have been reporting that Beyonce’s tour photographer passed away over the weekend. Yesterday afternoon I was not having one of the greatest days with much of my professional and personal life being in limbo. Days like the one I was having are the days in which my deceased fiancee comes to mind–they’re the days I wish I had her to talk to. I did what many of us do these days when we could use a distraction: pulled out my phone and scrolled through social media. Something along the lines of Beyonce Sends Out Heartfelt Message to Photographer caught my eye and I clicked on it. She was 33 years old and died from stage four esophageal cancer. I was touched.




My fiancee and the mother to my daughter succumbed to esophageal cancer at 25. The first thought to cross my mind was an almost befuddled oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center telling us that the average age for this cancer is 73. Like, that’s what Mr. Rogers died of. The thought of a doctor at one of the leading cancer hospitals in the world being virtually dumbfounded and Yosra also being diagnosed confirmed to me that a higher being exists. Sometimes, He puts unique spirits in bodies that will not be with us on earth very long; but their real purpose on earth will be manifested once they have returned.

I watched Yosra El-Essawy’s YouTube video in which she talked about how she came about working with Beyonce, her illness, and how that time on the road taught her how to live. Listening to her story reaffirmed an important lesson of fearlessness and faith. Yosra talked about how she left a stable life and followed her intuition–which I believe will never fail you. We often know when something is right or wrong; whether it be a time, place, or even a relationship. Yet, we follow through with it because a part of us feels that a lesson must be learned or reinforced for a much latter time in which the stakes are higher. Sometimes we have to go through hell to appreciate the heaven on earth.

“You know what? It’s time to let it all go, jump off the side of the cliff again, and just believe the net will appear.” This quote resonated with me as I personally am at a crossroads. I stumbled upon writing in the capacity that I do now. I just wanted to let my frreinds as well as my fiancee’s friends, family, and well-wishers see our daughter grow up. With some convincing, I eventually began to tell my story and doors began to open. As of yesterday afternoon a big part of me pondered what-or why-should I continue? Watching this was exactly what I needed to see.

“I have never prayed before for something so specifically in my life…Never.” I have to admit this is something that I often don’t do. Honestly, I don’t because I’m afraid. While I am aware that God knows what is really on my heart and is just waiting for me to ask Him I still feel a little wary. Maybe this is why some things that I have wanted haven’t worked out? Maybe they didn’t because I have done so and I mistook God telling me no for rejection instead of protection. It’s possible and probable that God had exactly what I wanted or prayed for lined up; yet the cynic -and human- in me blocked the blessing and He saw I wasn’t ready. It happens and sometimes in order to prevent this from happening again God will place a little something on your phone that just might be click-bait for you to see and it reminds you not just who you are, but who He is.

“God has the ability to make amazing from terrible.” I agree with this. As crazy as this may sound hearing Yosra El-Essawy’s story gave me peace. I found inner resolve in knowing that my fiancee wasn’t the only young person to be diagnosed with esophageal cancer. It reaffirmed the idea that many times spirits know they are going to leave us, so they do some amazing things, attach themselves to unique souls, and leave a piece of themselves with us all to have something to learn from them. Within three minutes and fifty-six seconds–virtually all of the doubt and uncertainty I was feeling went out the window to continue to keep me on my mission with the time that I have left.

Thank you, Yosra El-Essawy…

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