(THE BALCONY) “Smile…say…cheeeeeze!” That’s what we say to the people in front of the camera just before we “click” it and it is stored seemingly forever. The picture does not age, we do in a sort of reversal of The Picture of Dorian Gray. When we compare the picture with the real-life subject we can see how history and age has not been kind to us. But when pull out that shoe box full of snap shots or plug-in the flash drive that is only kept for iPhoto and FaceBook, we don’t think of the mirror, but think of the moment, years or days ago when the picture was “taken” a slice in time, a memory, a smell, a smile, the weather, the place and what happened just before and what happened just after the picture was recorded. They are inanimate bits of paper or binary zeros and ones. They aren’t reality in and of themselves. But they are very powerful for evoking some kind of a visceral response from us when we look at them. We have seen after fires and hurricanes that have destroyed homes, the weeping that usually accompanies the loss of a pictorial history in the devastation. We mourn with those people we see on the TV machines because we would feel the same if the tangible memories of our pictures were destroyed as well.
These few days have been the hardest for our family as we remember our daughter/sister/mother/wife Anne who passed away two long years ago. That is the stark reality that we face every day. Her life and companionship are gone forever until we meet again. But we have the pictures of her life from beginning to almost the last days. These are memory prompts not life. The memories are in our heads and these photos prod the brain to remember sights, sounds, feelings, emotions and life. Could I remember without them? Probably. But the pictures are a great help as I get older and older and my memory starts to get sketchy.
But it seems the good they die young.
You know, I just looked around and he’s gone. (Dion- Abraham, Martin and John)
These words are so true, The prompts of the pictures helps me to freeze the young in place, never getting old, never suffering from a debilitating disease and never dying. The face of Anne over the years is constantly full of life full of the phrase “cheeeeze” and forever with us. She smiles at the camera eye and into my eyes when I hold the photo and when I put it away to take out another day. We miss her, we all miss her and as another year begins we put the photos away in a safe place so that we can remember again and again…
and so it goes…