Blazing red hair and a laugh that could bring world peace — that’s how I remember my friend. Light. Boldness. Laughter.
The last time we were together, we laughed so much, I could barely take a proper photo. We struggled through trying to be serious for some headshots she needed, and we managed to get them, but every other photo was of her cracking up.
She never took life too seriously. But in the seriousness of everyday life and all its pushes and pulls, we couldn’t connect the dots on our schedules to be in the same place at the same time again. We stayed connected through social media, volleying life events back and forth, liking this photo or that update.
When she was fighting for her life the first time, she was farther away, out of reach (physically). And then she made it. She won that round. But the cancer was not done with her, and it came back with a vengeance. It would not go quietly, and neither would she. She continued to be light, to share truth, to share her reality with a huge dose of optimism. All the way until the end.
At the front of her memorial service, there sat some of the images I took of her on that windy, hilarious day. She looks serious in the images, those few that we got. I just smile because I know what happened in between. I know that the outtakes were her favorites, as well as mine. I know that we laughed, that we really, truly connected that day.
Years before, I sat in a hospital room with her before her sweet third daughter arrived. We got to know each other then, a visit that came because she told the social media world she was bored and needed visitors, and I happened to be free…and drawn to her. I happened to want to know her better. I happened to feel a connection.
I brought her fall in a jar on one of our visits. She loved the autumn season and was missing all the colors while confined to her sterile hospital room. The accommodations were necessary and worth the effort for a healthy daughter to be born, but she was still honest enough to say she was missing the world that was happening outside that room. So, a jar of fall — orange and yellow aspen leaves — a small taste of a season.
In the end, that’s what it felt like between us: a small taste of a season of friendship. Life doesn’t afford us all the time we desire for every person we meet. Life doesn’t allow for hours of laughter and bonding with everyone. Relationships sit idle, waiting. The ones truly worth pursuing don’t always get what they deserve. Life just isn’t accommodating. And sometimes we reach the end with those regrets, even though we get it. Even though we know time will run out — someone else’s clock will end before yours, and then yours will stop ticking too.
This fiery redhead left before we could forge into a new season. She left in the fall, one of her favorite seasons (because she gave equal love to them all), and she left while we were both busy trying to live. I think about those pictures I took of her, the ones that sat at the front of her memorial service, and I smile again. What an honor to photograph a life, to capture a beautiful person, a season.
What a joy to connect with beautiful people, even if the season is short. What a blessing to have one more moment to remember.
We all die. The question is, what season will you be in when that happens? I choose to laugh, to dance, to love, to live with all I have, even when the season is hard.