My friend Karyn was a local country rock musician and model, as well as a wife, a dedicated loving mother of four, a sister, daughter, friend etc. Sadly she was killed in a serious car wreck and today I attended her funeral service. I have known her for about 7 years, in fact I had attended a couple local model / photographer networking events and photoshoots where I had originally met her and briefly shot with her. The first thing I remember is that she was very creative and detail oriented, and knew how to engage her audience, whether on stage or on camera. Three years ago, she had asked me to shoot her wedding, I happily agreed and was honored that she respected my work enough to document her biggest day. But she knew I’d take care of it and provide what she wanted. It was a beautiful outdoor lakeside wedding, and I had really liked her husband Jason as well.
I had not been in touch with her regularly since soon after the wedding, except an occasional hello on Facebook or wishing one another Merry Christmas or something like that. It’s a shame sometimes relationships in life get reduced to that shrink wrapping, because of busy schedules. But the thing we must all remember is that life isn’t forever and we have to re evaluate our focus from time to time.
It was the other day I received the news about when her funeral memorial service would be, and I arranged to go with friends who were also in her circle. I saw many people who I had not seen in a while, and all of us agreed it was good to see each others’ faces, and we were all sorry it took something like this for us all to come together again. I was totally humbled to offer a hug and my support to her husband and children, and other friends and family of Karyn. When we sat, the first thing I noticed in the chapel area was a large TV with a digital slideshow of their wedding, most of which were photos I shot, and some guests had snapped etc. It became VERY real at that time exactly what kind of impact photos have, and what an awesome responsibility I had been given. I had a very heavy heart looking at the slideshow with her favorite songs. Especially after learning her dad had passed away about a year after the wedding, and seeing photos from the wedding with the two of them together. I remember offering my condolences to Karyn after losing her dad. It about knocked the breath out of me seeing photos of them together from the wedding I had shot, knowing they were both gone from here, and the legacy they would both leave behind. And that neither of them will be forgotten.
A photograph done properly is a direct reflection of the person’s exterior beauty, and a reflection of their soul, and internal beauty as well. My gut was wrenching to see her children suddenly without their mom, who was a huge inspiration to them, and her husband wondering how this could have possibly happened. But I saw the support and love everyone there offered to the family, which took heart. Even in this fast paced society, love and compassion among people still exist. I really believe in living a spiritually rewarding life and positivity being my anchor. So seeing this trait in people really helps restore and renew my faith in the love people can display. Seeing those photos and knowing what they meant to her, and continue to mean to the family was the only peace I could really feel while sitting there. But then when people spoke, it showed that everyone there who knew Karyn all said the same things about her, which proves she was very real and genuine. Everyone said she was loving, giving, inspirational, artistic, talented, musical, and truly lived life and gave her all in everything she did. Many of those people knew her better than I did. But that sounded exactly like the Karyn I knew. It was at least encouraging for her family to know she would want them to carry on and never give up.
She was 34 years old, energetic and beautiful, and had touched a lot of people. The whole situation really doesn’t seem fair. But there are always greater reasons beyond our comprehension that I won’t even try to understand. The important thing is that she left a huge impression and made a difference while she was here. Just as a specific ray of light had illuminated a photo so beautifully, that same ray may not be there the next time I shoot. Sometimes the stars in our lives, whether human or heavenly, that shine the brightest, don’t shine for as long as we would like. I would encourage you to be that star for those in your life. Be well and inspired friends.