Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pictures of You

Mom gave me a framed photo a bit ago.  It was a picture I'd taken in January, but she'd enlarged it and printed it off.  One for each of us, she said, and I didn't bother to ask who "us" included.  Not that it matters, and the answer would only point to the fact that it doesn't include Clint anymore, driving reality's sharp wedge a little deeper.  I'm surviving with it where it is right now.

Here is the photo: 

It's funny, because I'd thought that I'd like to put a photo of him up in the house eventually, and I was glad to have it, but when I got it I didn't quite know what to do. 

What do you do with the remnants of a life?  With a ghost of a person? 

I was suddenly intensely aware of the layers of dust on the mantel, and anyway it would have to be rearranged to make room, the couch was in the way, etc.  But the bookshelves were near, comforting and convenient, and there was a spot just the right size in front of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  A "just for now" place, I thought, because who can sit in front of Laura Ingalls Wilder and not be in the way at some point (even if there is another set in the house)? 

Yet he's still there, and I've come to rather like the place over the time elapsed since then.  The bookshelves are along one wall of the living room, and when I have a quiet moment to think I often find my eyes wandering over the books absentmindedly. 

At first, it was a bit unsettling, and full of mixed emotions, when my glance would fall on him unexpectedly, there in his little cove.  But it's really quite a fitting place for him, I think, there amongst the books.  And now I find myself looking at it with approval of its placement, even though I still don't know how long he'll stay there.

I've taken to mentally philosophizing in his general direction at times, wondering his opinion on all kinds of matters, part of me even wishing he could respond.  It's a little ridiculous, I tell myself, but I do it anyway.  I wish he were just sitting in the room with me, so the conversation wouldn't be so one-sided. 

It's really amazing how his smile can seem to mean so many different things.  At times he seems to be teasing, or amused by me, and other times it seems a smile of appreciation and comraderie, and enjoyment of our non-existant discussion. 

Just recently I had what I would have told him was an Atlas moment (a moment which makes one think of Atlas Shrugged), having managed to have newly purchased three defective products from a department store.  These were products which I'd really been counting on working well so I could get on with important projects, and  one of them was even an exchange for yet another defective product.  I noted wryly in his direction that he wouldn't be here to see the breakdown of technology; he'd escaped witnessing it, and won't we enjoy it without him -- and wouldn't a mind like his have been worth so much here in a time like this? 

Of course I'm glad for him that he won't be here to have to endure what I know would be great frustration and disappointment for him in a number of ways in life, but I was feeling a bit cynical. 

He just smiled, that same understanding smile.


  1. Amber, I know that photo will give you both moments of comfort and unexpected moments of grief. I wish you more of the former, as time continues to pass. I lost a sister-in-law this last year too, who was as close as a sister for the past 37 years. I have been missing her a great deal lately, so I know a bit of the grief you are going through. I know you know prayers help, and sometimes tears help, too. Love to you and your beautiful family - Aunt Kathy

  2. Thank you very much for your kind thoughts, Aunt Kathy. I'm sorry for your loss (and Craig's) as well, and love to you and yours.