A Wisconsin mom named Kelly Luethe is making national headlines for her maternity shoot which took an unexpected, deeply moving turn. Back in August, Luethe was 18 weeks along with her third child when her husband Jarrett was tragically killed in a car crash. "My heart breaks for our son who will never get to meet his dad," Luethe tells Parents.com. "The week after Jarrett’s accident was when we were supposed to find out the gender, so he never even got to know he was having a boy. I decided to keep the appointment to find out even though it was the day after his funeral. I took my mom and his mom with, and when the ultrasound tech said it was a boy we all screamed and cried with happiness and sadness. It was so bittersweet."
Fast-forward to last month when Luethe decided to do a maternity shoot with professional photographer Jessica Brandau. Although she didn't have one for either of her first two kids, Luethe decided she'd do it this time around "to have Jarrett photoshopped in and be 'faded,' so that he could be included," she tells Parents.com. As it turned out, Photoshop actually wasn't necessary... According to Brandau, the minute she saw the files on her computer after the shoot, she realized it looked as though Jarrett had been present alongside his widow.
"When I first noticed the rainbow during the shoot, I showed Kelly and immediately got goosebumps and teared up when she told me that they had experienced a miscarriage before becoming pregnant with baby Jarrett, making this their 'rainbow baby,'" Brandau tells Parents.com. "It wasn't until I got home that night and uploaded the photos to my computer that I noticed that the rainbow and 'orbs' were in almost every single photo, even though we had moved around quite a bit during the shoot and even switched locations halfway through."
Luethe recalls how she felt when Brandau first shared her discovery. "When Jessica mentioned a rainbow showing up, and then showed me, I noticed it was right above my belly," she shares. "This child was our rainbow baby, and I immediately thought of that, and then I thought Jarrett had to have had something to do with it. Instantly gave me chills and made me teary-eyed. I knew he was with me then. I miss him terribly, and he would have moved mountains for me while he was still alive and he’s still taking care of me after he has passed. Our love was something I never dreamed I could have had. He was an amazing father and husband."
In the wake of seeing the images, Luethe researched the phenomenon. "I wasn’t too educated on the orbs and just thought how cool that they were green which is my favorite color," she explains. "Looking into it more, I found out that a green orb means a happy spirit is visiting and sending healing energy. I believe that 100%. Jarrett was happy. Saw the positive in everything. And our life was looking so promising because of his hard work and dedication. I was a stay-at-home mom thanks to him, and he was going to get promoted soon at his job. He was extremely looking forward to that. I try to look at this situation that he left this world a happy man. I know he was happy because we talked about it daily. And of course I was happy too!"
Luethe's nearest and dearest were just as stunned by what had transpired with the photo shoot. "All my friends and family believe Jarrett was with me that day, and that this was the sign I had been longing for since his accident," she says. "I wouldn’t have received such a beautiful sign from my husband without Jessica's willingness to do the pictures for me. It has given me some peace during this awful situation."
Nonetheless, both Luethe and Brandau realize that others are reacting with skepticism. "I know that some will chalk it up to lens flare and light refraction, but in the time that I have been photographing professionally, I have never had it show up as prominently -- and in every single photo -- the way that it did in Kelly's photos," she explains to Parents.com. "I do fully believe that Jarrett was giving Kelly and his babies a sign that he is still with them."
Luethe has a similar way of handling the "handful" of negative reactions. "As for people who think it’s fake and just the sun glare and reflection off of dust, that doesn’t bother me," she shares. "I know that happens in photos but the placement of the rainbow and how it’s in every picture even though I moved around, and we even switched locations and it’s still there.... I just say I believe he was there, and everyone’s entitled to their opinion on it, but they weren’t there and felt how Jessica and I felt. Any negativity doesn’t take away my faith on it. I also feel there is more people who believe and have had something similar happen to them."
In reaction to the photos going viral and story making national headlines, Brandau says she, "Kelly, Jarrett's family and friends, and everyone who knew Jarrett is happy that his story and legacy has been shown in such a beautiful way."
Speaking of Jarrett's legacy, Luethe shares, "Before I even knew the gender, I said if it was a boy that he would be named after his dad. And that is what I am sticking with." And when it comes to sharing his story and the photos with her baby boy someday, the proud mom says, "I will make sure he know that his dad is his guardian angel and will always be watching over him."