The pictures I’m not taking

I’ve tried to take at least some pictures while I’ve been here with my parents, both because I obsess that way, and because I want to record at least some aspects of this terribly important moment in all of our lives. I’m struck, though, by all the pictures that I didn’t (and won’t) take; images that I won’t forget soon, but which I’m not going to try to capture.

Some of it is just not very pleasant. Chemo makes him throw up (as it does many people). I’ve watched a fair bit of that while we’ve been here, although nothing close to what Mom’s helped him through, and these moments definitely fall in the “I wish I could pretend I hadn’t seen that” category. There are probably powerful images that could be made of this distress, and one could argue that going through this is a key part of the fight against the cancer and therefore worthy of documentation. But some other photographer will have to do that. It’s my dad, and I need to be giving him a hug and helping him wipe his face, not taking his picture.

Some of it is the sounds that still photography just doesn’t capture. Extreme discomfort can be a very noisesome beast, and there’s been plenty of that, with more to come. Harry Smith would probably tape the whole thing, but I’m passing on that as well.

Some of it I would love to capture, but just haven’t, and probably won’t, because it’s not easy and I’m only willing to go so far to record the moment. Mom stroking his forehead in the near dark, helping him calm down after a bad spell and encouraging him to go back to sleep. Her hand on his back; his hand in mine. Little glances; fleeting expressions; moments. In the end, the little signs of why we’re fighting this thing.

Sometimes you have to live, wading through the experience instead of recording it from the shore. I keep reminding myself that now is a good time to live.

Related posts