I remember before phones were ubiquitous, and cameras were a burden some of us willingly carried to capture moments.
“I love pictures but hate photography” is one of my quotes.
I used to take guerilla photos constantly, knowing at least one would be salvageable.
This first one is from May 2007, in Omaha, Nebraska. We shared a delicious Italian supper at an Italian restaurant. Though I didn’t realize it, I have a picture of the entrance! It was Lo Sole Mio Ristorante Italiano. I’d forgotten I took a quick snapshot, also grabbing a picture of my brother-in-law Joe in doing so.
Kim, in the lead, is looking down and smiling. My brother-in-law Steve is next to her. Behind him, my deceased wife, Deanne. She died four months later, unexpectedly, ten years my junior —her brother Steve, six years later. For all I know, everyone in this picture, even the innocent bystanders walking behind them, are dead. On a long enough timeline, this will be true for every single image you own.
I love this picture. Steve and Deanne gave me the one-finger salute independently and simultaneously. I laughed and laughed when I saw it. I apologized to the bystanders, telling them that some of us were from Arkansas.
Joe and Deanne had a bitter exchange of words afterward. I don’t remember why. I hope Joe doesn’t either because no matter what words they shared, they loved each other. I have a picture that captures the irritation.
I have better pictures of Deanne from that day. But the one of her getting into Steve’s gargantuan truck captures her perfectly in an unguarded moment.
Now that I’m living in my own The After, I think about Deanne more. She was ten years younger than me. Loudly and aggressively vivacious.
Were she here, she would absolutely holler at me to stop wasting time on ‘what ifs’ and wishes. She’s been gone fourteen years.
She would quote “The Green Mile” and tell me, “Get busy living or get busy dying.”
Don’t stop taking pictures, even if people give you the finger.
One day, you might be sitting and reminiscing. And that picture might give you a breath of life.
When the sun begins to sit on the horizon, we are all memories.