B was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer about four years ago. She was a friend-of-a-friend, someone I met maybe once or twice, at the mutual friend’s wedding and possibly at some other party. In the spring, I learned that her prognosis wasn’t very good, and she was organizing a get-together with her close friends to assemble photo albums and videos to leave to her children, who are 8 and 6. Since she lived maybe 30 minutes away in Virginia, I offered to do a photo shoot for her with her kids, as a gift, which she gladly accepted.
We met up at Glen Echo Park, and her kids ran around with my kids, riding the carousel and playing on the playground. I took pictures of B and her kids hugging, tickling each other, being silly, laughing, all the things that young kids are good at doing with their mother, who, at that age, is the most important person in their lives. She also sat with each kid independently and they chatted while I hung back with my camera. I’m not even sure what they talked about, but it wasn’t my conversation to eavesdrop in.
Despite that these are the most important photos I have ever taken, and out of respect for her family, I will probably never publish them anywhere. They were only meant for B and her kids. I did choose this one to post, mostly because it’s from far away, but also because even from far away one could appreciate the closeness that mother and daughter had. The photos turned out really well, and B was very emotional about them. Our timing was good, because soon after, the sweltering DC summer temperatures set in, the carousel at Glen Echo was closed for renovations, and she spent her summer trying to stay cool while in and out of hospital visits. She passed away a few weeks after the school year started.
The kids might not remember that they went to Glen Echo that day, much less that I was there or who I was. At the very least, I hope these photos give them some comfort and memories of a time when their mother was still there.