A high school senior in Zimmerman, Minnesota, recently made a touching tribute to her best friend who passed away last year.
Haley Donley and Heather Doucette had been close friends since elementary school. “We did pretty much everything together. And we’re still together,” Haley told KARE 11.
Tragically, Heather died in a single-car rollover accident on a slippery road near Cloquet in 2018. Her mother, who was driving at the time, and Heather’s younger sister survived the crash but suffered from serious injuries.
“Most devastating phone call I’ve ever gotten in my life, for sure,” Haley said of the day she lost her friend.
“Heather was a part of her. They were more than best friends, they were sisters,” Haley’s mother, Lori Donley, said of their close bond.
Since they met in fifth grade, their yearbook photos had always been side by side. This year, Haley wanted to use her senior photo as a way to remember her best friend, so she posed while holding a beautiful portrait of Heather.
When it came time for Haley’s photographer, Jacki Vaughn, to help the senior choose a picture for the yearbook, the teenager knew exactly which one she wanted.
“I was stunned,” Vaughn said when Haley chose the portrait of herself and her best friend’s photo. “Haley just pointed and said, ‘That’s the one. That’s the one I want for my senior picture.’ And then I cried.”
Vaughn contacted the school to get permission to print the photo in the yearbook with both girl’s names underneath, and they agreed.
“Now she’ll be right there next to me in the yearbook like we’ve dreamed of since fifth grade,” the graduating senior commented.
Heather’s mom, Amanda Valerius, said Haley’s love and loyalty towards her daughter means everything to her.
“It’s been kind of bittersweet watching her friends posting all their senior pics. Now I got to see my baby girl on a senior photo,” she stated.
“The only way to get her to graduate with me was bring her along,” Haley said, adding, “I appreciate her being my best friend the years we had together.”