Day 9: Someone Who Inspires Me.

I'm cheating today on the image--but I have a very good reason for it, I promise. The person who inspires me to be better, to go harder, faster, to learn and learn, and never look back...

Well, he's not with me anymore.

He's one of my best friends. A brother. A mentor. And in a sense, one of my greatest loves. (Not like I wanted to marry him, but he was the first man I met that taught me that kindness didn't mean a romantic interest--and I loved him so much for that)

Jonathan M. Franco is a police officer. He's a leader. He has an amazing laugh, he loves Family Guy, he loved women like they were his sisters, and he loved women like Christ loves him. But most of all--He's one of the greatest lovers of God I know. The man's Bible was psychedelic with underlined phrases, scrawled notes, and worn spine, and his conversations were the greatest evidence of a Creator.

He inspired me to continue improving my craft--every shoot, he'd honestly tell me what he thought about my work. Every tough moral issue I faced, he was my compass--he'd voice the answer I already knew deep in my heart. Every tear I shed, every fear I had, every dark secret I tried to bury--he knew about.

And he still loved me-respected me-LIKED me.

It was like the love of God, in a tall, smarmy package of joy.

When he died in a motorcycle accident, my world crumbled. I felt so lost. My compass was broken--my mentor was gone--my dearest, sweetest friend had been torn away from me, without warning. Without even a goodbye.

It took a long, long time for me to finally stop dreaming about him. It took longer to admit I needed help, and started counseling.

But even now, as I type this--though, I miss him so, so damn much it aches my jaw from trying to not cry, and my heart aches in such a way that I can feel it throughout my whole body...--he still is an amazing inspiration for me. I want to live with the surety that he lived with--I want the wild, abandoned trust he had for what God had for him.

I want his unashamed joy and love for the world.

I miss him. Every day. Every time I see a red motorcycle fly by at top speeds, my heart aches. Whenever I got to Mirabeau park...and I see the spot where he acted out all sorts of crazy faces at my command ("Be a beaver--now give me FIERCE--okay, now I want STOIC") I want to stop, and go on my knees, and then curl over, and scream out my frustration at not being able to talk to him.

But he's not gone. Not forever. He's in my heart. His laughter still echoes through my soul. His words of wisdom are immortalized in emails, messages, and hand-written notes. He still inspires my shots of the sunrise, my shots of a budding flower, my images of incredible, emotive moments of sorrow and joy. He's there. Laughing. Sometimes he's saying "Noooo Noooo," other times, especially when a dust-covered Bronco comes flying by on massive, monster-truck wheels, a mullet fluttering in the breeze, I can hear him yell "MERICA."

Oh. How I miss him.