It is the pictures that get me…
In them, they are standing with family and friends. They are on some grand and glorious vacation. They are posing with the rewards of a long days fishing trip. They are holding hands, walking on the beach squinting because the sun is in their eyes. They are serious, smiling, posing, and being silly.
Each one a story.
The newlywed couple overjoyed with the hope and promise of the life before them. A mother in a hospital bed with her first child. A proud dad stands next to his daughter who just graduated. A grandma holding her first grandchild.
Each one a record of life.
These are the pictures of their best and happiest times. They are the people of whom they are most fond; the people that have meant the most to them.
Each one a memory.
The pictures are on the walls and night stands next to their beds.
When I look at the picture, I want to ask the person in it a question or two.
“Right then,” I would ask, “at the time you said, ‘Cheese’ or ‘I do’ did you think you would end up here? Did you think you would be contracted, eating a puréed diet, or being incontinent?”
I imagine the shock and horror that might come over them as they caught glimpse of their future. How would that knowledge affect them living their lives? Thankfully, they did not know and were able to live a life with infinite possibilities (even if they didn’t know that part was true).
Anyway, here they are.
It is so easy to dismiss the person as not being there, but the pictures insist I look further. The pictures prove that a real person dwells within the frail shell before me. The pictures beg me to recognize that there is more to them than my eyes reveal.
So we talk. I show them their pictures. Or, I find pictures that serve as a prompt for memories of their own.
On a good day, when everything goes well, they will peek out from the mist and let me know they are there. On those special days, I get the honor of letting them know they have been seen and are loved.
It is the pictures that get me…to see the person in the shell.