Oh you guys. My amazing,wonderful, dear, funny friend Alby was taken off life support today. There just is not enough kleenex in our house right now.
I shot this photo of Alby and his husband Chris when we visited them in Palm Springs in May 2013. There was no cancer diagnosis back then. There was just a lot of margaritas, pool time, long walks and laughter. About a month after this photo was shot, a few lumps were found and the diagnoses came. While the last 14 months have not been easy (especially for dear, sweet Chris up there), I’m going to focus on the good times right now.
The first time I met Chris and Alby, they had invited us to dinner at their house after work (they were both coworkers of Jamie’s, and he kept insisting I would adore the both of them). I had had a horrendous week at vita.mn (I think this was in 2008!), and I had met a coworker after work for a drink before heading to dinner. It was the first (and come to think of it, maybe the last) time I ever partook in happy hour at The Red Dragon. That’s this awesome hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant in Uptown that serves a specialty drink called “Wonderous Punch.” You guys, this is not a drink. It’s a bowl of about seven liquors that somehow tastes like kool-aid. While I only had one, you can imagine the state I was in by the time I arrived at Chris and Alby’s house, having never met them before. Tipsy would be putting it mildly.
And they kept offering me gin and tonics! And finally I had to fess up and tell them that no, I could not have any drinks! Just water please (please!). Alby teased me for years about that night and my “tolerance” and what kind of guest comes to dinner already three sheets to the wind without having met the hosts before. But not in a vicious way — always making me laugh. It was from that night on that we hit it off and were immediate friends. It was also that night that Alby took our photo and told me about his “photo a day” project and how he documented each of his days with photography. He showed me his many photo albums (back then he printed them in scrapbooks! Later he moved onto a website), and he inspired me to start this photo website right here.
This January, when Alby began his second round of radiation to fight the cancer which had moved to his brain, I helped drive him to his appointments. I was driving him to radiation that first week, and I had just found out I was pregnant about two weeks earlier. Jamie and I had not told a soul because we weren’t sure the pregnancy would “stick.” But here I was running errands with Alby after his radiation and he was carrying around airline barf bags due to his nausea (always prepared).
I just decided that I needed to tell him I was knocked up because I, too, was nauseous as hell and I didn’t want it to seem odd if I made a run on his travel barf bags. You should have seen the two of us, queasy and exhausted making our way through the grocery trying to find food that sounded like it might taste good. He was so great and supportive and after that day, he would call me every week or two, and as I answered the phone, he would start the conversation with, “Hey! Is that bun still in the oven?” And I would laugh and laugh and tell him that yes, so far this bun was still in the oven.
Oh Alby. I haven’t seen you in more than a month, but you should see this bun now. It’s like a full blown cake, it’s so big.