approx read time: 3 min
The pictures on the wall are full of smiling faces. Everyone was all so happy then.
It would be quite outside the norm to take pictures of non happy people.
I grew fascinated by them. Each picture was a glimpse into a past reality, allowing me to see just how much things and people have changed.
What was once new and recent, is now old and out dated.
I’ll never share the same household as my brother and parents, like we were in that photo. Now my brother and I have more robust individual lives of our own, making it hard to see each other nowadays.
Here’s the first time I held my niece in the hospital, barely opening her eyes.
I remember looking down upon her, in awe of holding this fragile new addition to our family. But now I’m facing a wall, glaring at a scene of myself holding her from across the room, where the camera was when the picture was taken.
I’m here as a viewer this time, not the main character.
I browse the other now “old’ pictures… All of them, people smiling at the camera unaware of what happens next.
I’ll probably never run into that dude again; I’ll never be in that country again (I hope); they’re divorced; she had a bunch of kids; he’s got a beard now… and I have a new scar on my face.
And here’s my best friend who is no longer with me today.
We were happy that day.
Yeesh. How about another shot.
I bought this bottle as a gift for a good friend of mine (different friend); who’s no longer a good friend of mine… hence the scar on my face.
Too bad for him. Good bottle.
I cheers to these memories all the same. Two dimensional, happy glimpses of my life as it once was; regardless of whatever happened afterward.
Some haven’t changed much.
I’m still engaged to the beautiful girl in that picture, and my niece is still brightening up rooms with every little laugh she makes.
Some have changed the most.
That last day with my best friend was a good day.
So what now…
Good things. Bad things. It all collects into an ever massive pile as we grow older.
I got a phone call the other day from my mother, after I had just received some good news that had me feeling pretty good.
Of course, I answered as I always do with her- in a hurry. As if I’m too self-absorbed and busy for a few minutes of my own mother’s life.
Apparently that’s exactly what I am.
My grandmother passed 3 years ago that same day. She had to remind me.
Humility struck me quick and it was revealed to me that I will probably never forget her “death-date”, nor my father’s. So this day, that I so carelessly treated, is probably quite significant to my mother still.
I thought, things may change for better or for worse. But in this picture, both of my parents will still be happy and smiling, long after their deaths, for me to fondly reminisce.
There’s one thing in common about all of these pictures… something has changed since each of them was taken.
Here’s a good one of my high school buddies, tight knit group we had. To none of our faults, the changes that took place after that picture drifted us all on different paths. Still love those guys over a decade later.
A sandy Iraq photo with a few Marines I spent every hour of every day with- playing spades and smoking hookah, laughing, arguing, fighting, filling sandbags…
To none of our faults, I’ll probably never see a few of them for the rest of my life.
I feel fine, however. Content if anything.
I used to long for these old times and feel a bit of inner turmoil that I couldn’t go back. A past I was once immersed in with all my senses, has now been diminished to a flat, 4 by 6 picture. I didn’t trust that my brain would harbor enough of the once reality, and I wanted more to hold on to.
What happens when you forget the “thousand words” contained in a picture?
I used to feel like I would diminish as well, forgetting what was once lived.
Perhaps that’s why I hated having pictures of faces on my walls and refrigerator. They were distracting from my living in the present, compelling me to dwell on the things that have changed and to exhaustively try to remember every detail of the past.
Good and bad happens.
Yes you can deal with things properly, but you can’t forget about them. Just gets thrown atop the ever growing pile of things that happen to us, in the form of memories- both good and bad.
Honestly, I find the extremes a little numbing. Sometimes I am unsure of whether I’m supposed to feel happy or sad, being pulled in both directions of two best friends smiling to one of them not being here today.
Both thoughts come to mind, and I often struggle to feel anything at all.
Perhaps it’s that “numb” feeling that is the “content-ness” I feel. Fooled by thinking I’m more resilient than I am by not dwelling as I used to.
Or it could be the beginning of acceptance and taking ownership of those changes. And owning them as my new present reality.
Maybe then pictures won’t be so distracting.
But I’m good, though. I realized that’s just how things go.