Last week I photographed my friend’s daughter Haylie. Haylie is a high school senior. I was a high school senior when her mother Kimberley started 9th grade. We had met several years earlier when we were just kids, but we did not become friends until high school. Even then, I could have been a better friend.
I have always considered myself a good friend, but I had a selective short term memory. After I graduated, I stayed in touch with Kimberley for a few years, but then I became busy with … I don’t know. Kimberley started a family and I went in another direction. All the time I thought that I was being a good friend.
Eventually I married and had my first child. Shortly after my daughter was born, I received a phone call that changed my life. Then, as Tim McGraw sings, “I became a friend a friend would like to have,” but not before suffering. Seven years ago today marks the day that changed Kim’s life and redirected our friendship. Now Kim is one of my best friends.
It is strange looking at the photos that Haylie took of me. How can I remember high school conversations with Haylie’s mother and look this old? Why wasn’t I kinder when I was younger? (or yesterday?) I wish humility were easier to learn, because tragedy is a tough teacher. But the lessons can be sweet.
I photographed Haylie the afternoon before Thanksgiving. I felt that I was receiving a gift. She seemed young and grown up, which is how I felt when I was 17. It is how I feel now at 47. She will probably remember taking these photos for much of her life, and hopefully the memories will be positive.
I will remember the afternoon until my memory fades. First, Haylie is Kimberley’s daughter and Kim is one of my best friends. That almost makes Haylie a relative. Secondly, she is a great person. Third, she is a joy to photograph. I like photographing most people, but Haylie is special. She sparkles.