This was an extra special session for so many personal reasons.
Serena's brother Mike Koo was a good high school friend of mine. Mike was a very special person – truly, wholly, completely. He encouraged people to follow their dreams and take chances; he had a very open mind, heart and soul and he was always up for adventure, travel and pushing his limits. He lived his life on a different plane than most people, squeezing experiences to their last drops. He listened when you spoke. He had a deep, interesting mind. He poked fun at you while literally getting his own hands dirty to help you pursue yourgoals. He really wanted everyone to be the best version of themselves.
We lost Mikey in the summer of 2014. It has been an incredibly deep loss but we try to find strength and meaning by keeping his memory alive in the day to day moments. In my weaker frames of mind, I ask myself "What would Mike do?" and it gives me courage and the shot in the arm I need to face situations with more bravery. We all try to take comfort in the fact that he perished while doing something he loved. Keeping in touch with his family and nurturing our bond and connection helps to make me feel like I am spending time with him.
His niece Leah brings us all SO much joy. She's a very bright, strong-willed, funny, curious, expressive little girl. I see Mikey in her eyes; I feel his tenacity in her spirit. Watching her grow up means so much to me. She recently celebrated her second birthday so what better time for a family photo session? It was a perfect evening and a perfect shoot. Leah was as inquisitive as ever – rocks, shoes, park maps, water, you name it, she had to discover it and explore the environment around her. After the park we headed back to their house and I couldn't resist snapping a few shots while she babbled in the kitchen sink and became mesmerized by the faucet.
We miss Mike every single day. He was an old soul, full of energy, wit, kindness and grit. The caliber of his character remains unmatched in my life. The ache will never leave us but Leah's light helps soothe the pain. I can't wait to see the personality she grows into, the parts that will be all hers and the parts that will shadow my special friend.
RIP Mikey. I love you forever.