|In memory of Brittney Kaelberer.|
I love this photo. It was taken in the Tetons, at Phelps Lake, I think. A group of us drove down from Mountain Sky Guest Ranch for a weekend camping trip. We'd heard about this great cliff on a lake right in front of the majesty of the mountains, an easy place to get to, a wonderful place to hang out. I had a waterproof camera, so I was the photographer that day. It was an easy location to take good pictures. I set my camera to action mode and clicked away as my friends hucked themselves off a 25 foot rock into the serene water below. We messed around for an hour or so, then dried off, hiked to the car, and went back to camp. It was a beautiful day, and this photo is a reminder of all that was right about our journey, so full of life, energy, beauty, exuberance, youth, and joy. It's brightness somehow tugs at emotions in me that make me want to be the woman in the photo, to be jumping off that cliff again. What's so wonderful about it, though, is that none of the attributes it has are a result of my skill as a photographer. They aren't the result of luck, either. Those virtues fill this photo because of the woman in it - BK.
I was not BK's closest friend. We were acquaintances, co-workers, casual friends, but not close. At the time of this photo, I had barely even had a conversation with her. We saw each other around the ranch, though. We talked now and then. She worked waitstaff fairly frequently, so I saw her in the kitchen sometimes. Little though we knew each other, I can unhesitatingly recall so much about her. BK was a young woman admired by her peers, adored by her friends, and esteemed by all around her. She seemed to live a perfect balance, dutiful to her work and guided by impeccable integrity, grounded in faith and family, lighthearted and kind, social and accepting of all the people in her sphere. BK influenced other people through her joy, through her willingness to live life in moments, appreciating each one as it happened. Any photo of BK shines with youth, life, energy, exuberance, beauty, and joy, because that's who BK was and she radiated it every moment of every day. BK brought exuberance to the table with her in everything she did. She walked with grace and beauty in a world where those things increasingly seem to be fading. She met with the passion of youth a life that turned out to be all too fleeting. She was an incredible young woman who touched the lives of all who knew her. Indeed, she touched mine far more than I realized. The sadness I felt at reading today of her passing came upon me in an unexpected way, from a place I haven't identified. That someone who so little knew me and about whom I knew so little might inspire these words is a mystery only explained by her brilliance.
BK, you will live in our hearts and our memories for as long as we still walk this world, and when we too pass on, we will meet you with joy in the next. Until then, may you rest in peace with God.