On the day after 2013’s Thanksgiving, I took the picture* included with these thoughts. With our ubiquitous smart phones, we can create images anytime, anywhere, and with anyone. The stills and videos we take and take and take appear online, potentially viewed by millions—though more likely by a handful of family, friends, and accidental gawkers.
Most photos come and go. Most, even the so-called “viral” ones, have a shelf life that can be counted in days or weeks. Most don’t matter.
This picture mattered.
It’s my mother. My wife. Our dog.
Hannah, our beloved first golden retriever, would die a year later, at the advanced age (for her breed) of fourteen years. Mom, happily focused on a puzzle, had about nine months to live. She died the following August.
In this picture, Mom is grieving. Except that she’s not. Her husband of six-plus decades had died the year before. Dad’s insidious spiral into dementia spanned years. Like many spouses caring for a loved one with a progressive neurological illness, Mom’s deepest grief occurred while Dad continued to live. His death was a delayed, prayed-for blessing.
Still, in the photo, she’s a widow. Continue reading →