Saturday, December 24, 2016

So Present Yet So Absent

This photograph was taken during December 2013 or perhaps the year before 2012. Gigi (Gregory's cat) and Emma (my cat - not pictured) were relatively new to the family and Gregory had not yet begun his rapid decline of Christmas/New Year's 2013/14.

He moved to the Lieberman Center in January of 2014. He was there for 18 months and died October 4, 2015. He has been gone a year and a few months. It feels like he has not yet died and like he has never lived.

I am so bad with "time" and "years" so I had to really work at pin pointing the timing of this photo. I know for sure that it was Christmas time if only because up by the lamp is hidden one of our vintage Santa on Skis. You can see a hint of red and green behind the lamp.

Anyway, I discovered this photo when going through my albums online and find it to be wonderful, loving, and a little disturbing at the same time.

Gregory looks good physically and mentally and as often is the case in his photographs seems to be looking directly at you, the person who is viewing the photograph. 

He has on his mysterious and at times mischievous smile which looks like he is about to say something witty. His eyes focus deeply into yours and he seems to impart some deep secret between the two of you without needing words. 

How can he be so very alive and yet so very dead at the same time. This is the marvel of the ability of photography to capture a moment in time and in this case, quite vividly! I can see why ancient peoples refused to be photographed when it first was invented for fear of the camera "capturing their spirit."

While this camera certainly did not "capture" Gregory's spirit in a "won't give it back" way, it did capture his essence pictorially. Since I discovered the photo, as I lie in bed at night, lights out preparing for sleep I can almost feel Gregory lying next to me and again I give thought to "how can he still be so alive to me and yet so dead resting in Grandma Carrie's sewing box as well.

How can Gregory and I share experiences, laugh together, and discuss the day's events without words. How can I feel his embrace without the sense of touch and inhale him without the sense of smell? How can I dream him so present and actively alive when he is so distant and passively dead?

I do believe that he continues to exist on a different plane in a different way. I do believe that his energy continues and that our communication is real. It is not easy to hold this faith without concrete, scientific evidence yet I do hold on.

I have been able to create a new presence that does not rely on a physicality and while it gives me a certain semblance of peace, it also magnifies my loss and my grief. How can anything be so ying and yang, so black and white, so real and so imagined, so alive and dead. Perhaps this is the MIRACLE of life ... and having lived ... and living still?


  1. yes, that first image of Gregory looking into the camera is stunning and SO present. The next one of you embracing him overflows with your grief - clinging to him, holding on for dear life; it's extraordinarily moving.

    And yes, the mystery of life/death as one.

    1. Thanks Susan. Have been thinking of you a lot this holiday season. Minimally I hope you have gotten through it without too much additional "grief" but also hope you have had fond memories, the knowledge that you provided well for mom, and the gift of love!


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