Sometimes, life just isn't very fair. Today feels like one of those days.
I met Kayla on 9 July 2011. My friend, Curtis, called me up and asked if I wanted to photograph an event for a good cause. He told me that it was for a girl with CF - that's cystic fibrosis, a disease that causes severe damage to the lungs. Though advancements are being made all the time, we are not to the point of having a cure. Thus many with CF need lung transplants, many of them don't get that opportunity. And sometimes, if they are lucky and get those lungs, it means a lifetime of taking drugs that stop the body from rejecting the new organs, as is the case with any such transplant. Sometimes those drugs stop working. Either way, it's a crappy hand to be dealt.
This morning I learned about the passing of Kayla and it made me stop for a few minutes to consider many things. As I stood there seemingly struck by the weight of the news, I remembered when I had met her. I remembered that day like it was yesterday in fact.
I had photographed the fundraiser to help her get a new set of lungs. And I won an auction for a vase, pictured below. We do what we can to help. We all have choices and I had made the right one when I agreed to photograph the event.
After that day I became friends with Kayla through Facebook. And though I never became close friends she still served to inspire me. And she has been a constant reminder that helping others is the single most important thing we can do on this Earth.
She lived 5 years and a day longer from that July day in 2011. She will always be an inspiration to myself and many others. She, like others with CF, have had to face challenges that no one should. And she gave it a good fight, seemingly optimistic with a sort of knowledge that some don't acquire until they are much older. And that is: life is precious.
I hope that wherever she is, that she can now breathe easy.
She may be gone, but I will never forget her smile or those bright eyes or her radiant spirit contained in such a small stature.
Fly free, breathe easy. There is a piece of blue sky, for you.