Three weeks ago I met up with an amazing family. There are so many reasons this photo shoot shouldn’t have happened when it did. Getting nine adults from one family together for a shoot often takes a lot of coordinating and figuring out. I had announced that I was full for the month of September, so Candace wasn’t even going to ask me. But we were hanging out one day and she just mentioned that she really wanted to do updated family photos for her mom’s birthday. She said to me – I know you’re all booked up, I can find someone else. But I know how much photos mean to people, so I pushed back the time of my family dinner and fit them in.
I have known this family for 12 years. I met Cam, their son, in high school math class. He fell asleep just about every class and then beat me on every exam. He pointed it out to me every time. And at least once a year since.
The day was warm, sunny, the leaves still beautiful and yellow. Cam drove up after we had to call him, ignoring my instructions on where to meet us. I asked him to grab some chairs from my car and carry them for me. Usually he would have chirped at me before doing it. But I shared some news with him that day – Gareth and I are expecting our second little one. Cam immediately became softer, gentler, more protective. He grabbed my keys, and his brother Cody, they grabbed the chairs and we were off.
I chose a path that was a good 10 minute walk away. Cam chirped a bit about how long the walk was, but Cody really gave it to me. I even think Calvin asked me if we were walking to Saskatchewan.
If I would have known that was the last walk I would take with Cam, you better believe we would have been walking a hell of a lot further.
We said good bye to Cam on Saturday. We’ve been trying to say good bye to him all week. He was tragically killed in a car accident on the QE2 highway. And let me tell you what I’ve been telling everyone all week – this is bullshit.
Cam, over 1500 people showed up to say good bye to you. The room was full of everyone you made an impact on. Everyone who loved you. Some couldn’t be there, but you can be damn sure they were sending all their love that day.
The service was perfect. Your brother and sister made us all laugh during the Eulogy, something I never, ever expected to do in that room.
This baby growing inside me was kicking like crazy during the service. More than it has before – Gareth even felt it for the first time. I’m going to choose to believe you were right there with my babe, keeping it safe.
Scott, Brett and Matt said a few words on behalf of all of your friends, and they summed it up perfectly – “Our wish for our children is they find a friend like Cam”. How I wish that for my kids. You never, ever wavered. Once you were my friend, there was no getting rid of you. The day I came home from Australia and you found out I was back, you drove straight from hockey practice to my house. You had told me when I left on that trip, 18 and scared as hell, that I wouldn’t last three months. Every time I got homesick and wanted to come home, I remembered that you had said that and it pushed me to prove you wrong. If you hadn’t pushed me, I might never have finished up that trip, followed through with my dream. Met my husband Gareth.
Thank you for accepting Gareth with open arms, right from the time he came to Canada. There was one point I hadn’t heard from you in months, and you called me up asking if Gareth wanted to go to an Oilers game. I gave you a hard time for not inviting me, but no way, Gareth was going with you. You even brought him a jersey to wear. It’s still the only Oilers game Gareth has ever been to.
Cam, you are so incredibly loved. So many of us who are angry for losing you, but we’re thankful you were our friend. Had such a big heart. Never gave up on us. You brought everyone together on thanksgiving weekend. I saw friends I haven’t seen in a long time, hugged people I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
We’re all going to miss you every day. Every second. We’re all going to think of you. Laugh about you.
Life isn’t fair. We were reminded about that this week. But I will forever be grateful that I had the opportunity to know you.
I will forever be grateful we had the chance to do these photos. That I was behind the camera to capture you and your family just as you were in that moment. They will mean the world to me, and to your family, forever. And I will always be so grateful we took that last walk together.
You are forever loved. And you will be forever remembered.