When Amber Davis was diagnosed with a rare form of cervical cancer in 2014, the mom of three contacted her longtime friend and My Three Arrows photographer Heidi Spillane with an idea involving her four-year-old daughter.
“Amber texted me a picture she had found of a little girl in her mom’s wedding dress and wrote, ‘Oh my gosh … we have to do this for Nora,’” Spillane tells Us Weekly. “I was like, ’Yes! let’s pick a date!’”
But soon after the exchange, Davis’ health took a turn for the worse. “I don’t think any of us accepted that the disease was going to take her, but Amber somehow knew,” says Spillane. Indeed, shortly before Davis passed away at the age of 27, on July 28, 2015, she sent Spillane a reminder. “She asked me again, ‘Please make sure you do the photo shoot with Nora. I want her to have the pictures.’”
Spillane kept her promise. On October 25, Nora honored her late mother by donning her lace gown, wedding band and diamond earrings at the Hitching Post in Statesville, North Carolina — the same venue where her parents tied the knot in 2011.
As Spillane snapped photos, Davis’ husband, Derek, and her younger sister, Adrianne Blackwelder, looked on. “It was emotional for everyone, but at the same time we were happy because this is something Amber really wanted to happen,” Blackwelder tells Us.
Blackwelder describes the experience as a “fairy tale” for Nora, who is the sister of brothers Reid, 3, and Noah, 8. “It’s every little girl’s dream to get dressed up and be the center of attention,” she says. “She wasn’t uncomfortable or sad. We talk about Amber all the time and Nora will go, ‘I miss my mommy, but she’s in heaven and she’s not sick anymore.’”
The photo shoot is just another memory for Nora to cherish. “When Amber was sick, she said, ‘Don’t let my kids forget me,’” Blackwelder tells Us, “and they will not.”