"Sitting silently beside a friend who is grieving may be the best gift we can give."
My father had been asking me to photograph his waterski club for quite some time.
(Mind you, I am no sports photographer.)
When the stars finally aligned for me to join them, there was something far more meaningful on the agenda. My father's good friend, Denis, was visiting from South Carolina and was planning on scattering some of his wife Maggie's ashes on the lake that night. She had recently passed away after a battle with cancer and he was on a journey. Traveling on his motorcycle, he was visiting all of their favorite places leaving her ashes behind as he went.
Sometimes you get asked to do these little things and they don't feel like your job.
It feels like a calling.
Everything inside of me knew that this man needed me to be there with my camera that evening.
So I went.
When we first arrived, it was just my father and one of his other friends. We shook hands and they seemed eager to hit the water. They suited up and started to take runs down the river and I grabbed what shots I could -- we met up with another boat that had Denis and two other friends on board. I switched boats and continued to shoot the guys waterskiing on the slalom course.
When everyone was finished skiing, Denis asked me if I knew what they were doing that night.
I said yes.
He smiled and nodded.
I expressed my sympathies and we talked a little bit about angels before he got out the velvet bag that was riding beside my feet. They posed with "Maggie" before he said some sweet goodbyes and scattered a few handfuls of her ashes on the river. They shared some stories and he played a beautiful song on his cell phone while the guys sat around sipping their beers, every once in awhile drying a tear or two that had fallen from their eyes. The sky was painted with fiery reds that only grew brighter as time went on. It was a beautiful evening. One that I will never forget.
Having only met Maggie through Denis's stories that evening; I looked her up on Facebook and then went on to read her obituary, which I've attached below. Based on that research alone, I could tell I would have liked her. I only wish we could have met, she seems like she was quite the groovy lady.
|KILLORAN, Margaret Anne (Maggie) — 1960 - 2015
Left us peacefully, albeit too soon, in the arms of her beloved husband Denis Le Sage. Maggie, just shy of 55, was the daughter of the late Leo J. Killoran and Lillian (Emery) and adored sister and sister-in-law of Pat (Lynne), John, Marian (Jon), Dan (Maria), Michael (Denese), Bernie (Lesley Anne), Peter (Donna), Brian (Diane), Joseph (Inga), Paul (Annie), Jim (Lee) and Terry (Jackie). She was a special and inspiring Aunt to her thirty nieces and nephews, their spouses and children. Maggie was a lover of knowledge and education and includes two Masters and a journey toward her PhD interrupted by her illness as her personal achievements. Music was her muse and her voice was angelic. Maggie was loved by all who knew her in both her personal and professional lives. She had a flair for speaking the truth, delivered with assertiveness and confidence. Her B.S. meter was easily tipped by those who could not be authentic, however her compassion for others outweighed all other values she held. Maggie will be sorely missed by family members, friends, colleagues and students from many parts of the globe. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to your favourite animal shelter or to a financially struggling student."
Godspeed, Maggie -- It was truly an honor to witness and capture these moments.
May you forever rest in peace.