I could never have possibly imagined the role either of us would eventually play in each other's lives on that bright spring morning in 2009 when I first crossed paths with my friend Josh. I had recently met Josh's wife Jen in a birthing suite- she as a birth doula and I as a birth photographer. She later expressed to her husband her love of the photos I captured that night, so Josh decided to surprise her with a gift certificate for a photo shoot with me as a Mother's Day gift. The warmth of Josh's soul was so evident that morning when he knocked on my door that I just loved him immediately. He was such a bright-eyed young dad with an infectious smile and his eagerness to please his wife was obvious- but it was more than that. He was just magnetic. For me, Josh was one of those people you feel you've known your entire life, despite having just met.
A few weeks later, I completed a photoshoot with Jen and their two young girls, Grace and Samantha, and ended up inviting the family to our Summer Solstice celebration where a friendship began to blossom between the Quesada family and my son Asher and me. Later that summer I was honored to be the family's birth photographer when Jen and Josh welcomed their third child, Jakob Asher, into the world, and early the next year, Jen and Josh were among the first of my friends who I invited to meet my now-husband, Chris.
Josh & me at my 41st birthday celebration at which my husband Chris was given the Friends' Seal of Approval
The mutual adoration between Josh and I was strong from the beginning and never waned, with him always referring to me as "Miss S," - which I loved. We simply delighted in each others' presence whenever we were together and it was a joy to witness the budding friendship between Asher and Josh- both extraordinary souls who seemed to recognize and appreciate their own brand of individual uniqueness in each other. Asher especially loved Josh's live performances at the Mt. Baker Theatre and Josh was impressed when Asher, having already seen his show, requested that he see it a second time with his dad.
Josh giving Asher a tutorial with the new clippers I'd gifted to him for his 14th birthday. He asked for them and I happily obliged because the kid's impossibly thick hair grew SO FAST. Unfortunately, he ended up giving himself a boot camp style buzz cut one day so we asked Josh to offer some pointers
When we tragically lost Asher in 2012, Josh was crushed and felt compelled to spend a good deal of time by Asher's side in the ICU. I was in such deep despair that it was simply beyond my ability to bear witness to my beautiful son's lifeless body for more than just a few minutes, so I was (and remain) deeply grateful to everyone who had the strength to be present with him at that time. I have always felt it was a testament to Josh's love for me and admiration of Asher that he was able to hold such sacred space for the two of us in the darkest moments of our lives. Josh again eagerly reflected his love for us when I asked him to perform at Asher's celebration of life. My mom, Asher's Grammy, was an original Beatles fan from day one of the 1960s British Invasion and often would sing John Lennon's Beautiful Boy to Ash as he was falling asleep. Josh's rendition of the song was perfect and Asher's celebration of life would have been incomplete without it.
Josh performing Beautiful Boy by John Lennon on stage for Asher at the Mt. Baker Theatre
All this is to say... we simply can never imagine the roles we may eventually be asked to play in another's life when we first meet. With Josh, I was there to welcome his baby boy to the world and he was there to say goodbye to mine as he left it just a few short years later. It was Josh's cancer diagnosis in late 2107 that motivated me to begin taking my health care more seriously, and it was my deep reverence for him and the role he played for Asher that, when asked, gave me the strength to plan for him the most beautiful celebration of his life that I could imagine. These roles that we played for each other are nothing either of us signed up for when we first met on that spring morning in 2009 - the pain we endured as a cost of our friendship is so, so heavy - but, I have learned, this is what love looks like.
I love you, Josh Quesada. Forever and always.
PS: Fuck Cancer
Photos from Josh's celebration of life may be viewed on his honoree page here.
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