I had a visit this afternoon with an old friend. I suppose we are all getting to an age in our friend circle where an “old,” friend is no longer an endearing term. How else does one describe a friend who has been present in one’s life for almost a third of the years of your own existence?
Ron is nearing the end of his final chapter here, thanks to an unwelcome ghostwriter called cancer. Our visit was not terribly long….about an hour or so. It was however long enough for me to see that my old friend was still himself but weak from the cruel fate which had been dealt to him.
Ron is a fellow photographer. He had many questions for me regarding my current projects. As we discussed our shared obsession, an all-too-familiar light flickered within his eyes. It was a light that I know well. His far off gaze gave away his thoughts and recollections of the intoxicating view behind the lens. We spoke precisely of the allure of the magical hour of Rembrandt lighting – where all of God’s creation illuminates our subjects; as though just for our craft. How egocentric we photographers can be. It’s a shared, fatal flaw.
There was one image that Ron zeroed in on the most. One of my more recent shots of a local high school football star, newly named Heisman trophy winner, beloved quarterback; Baker Mayfield. Ron stared at the image for a long while and then he inquired about my settings. He was curious about the illumination of the back-lighting. I told him how remarkably simple it had been with my wide-angle aiding so in lower-light settings. As well as with some software enhancement. Then he asked,
“How many frames did you take to get this shot?” I smiled a coy smile and said,
“I got this on the first try.”
He smiled back, laughed in fact and said,
My youngest, Jack accompanied me on this visit. I could tell that Ron barely recognized Jack – as he has grown to become a young man before his eyes. Although they spoke briefly they seemed to share a kind tenderness which has been an organic trait of Ron’s for as long as I have known him.
Ron asked about our oldest, Will. I gave him a brief update and showed him Will’s image. He smiled again and said, “the old soul.” I agreed.
Next came the excruciating part of the visit – Paige. I pulled up my last image that I had of her. With a shaky voice that I resented and an uninvited tear down my cheek, I asked him this final question:
“If you see our girl – will you please tell her how much we love her….and miss her?”
He nodded and replied, “Oh, I’ll see her. And yes, I will.” He hadn’t hesitated with his answer at all. His assurance was fascinating to say the least.
I hope to see Ron again. Perhaps so, perhaps not. However, I was able to see that the peace of God, the light of all good, resides within him. I know he will be okay.
Godspeed Ron Lien. Thank you for your gift of friendship.