Vancouver: the forgotten’s fireworks from St. Paul’s
2 August 2014.
I’m in one of the city’s hospitals, visiting my father who’s in very bad shape.
I’ve helped feed him dinner of roast pork, peas, and gravy, a direct sensory reminder of his past as ‘line cook’ in a downtown diner nearby. He eats with great enthusiasm, the most I’ve seen him eat in weeks. Dinner’s done, and he’s worn out. I suggest we go “around the corner” with him in a wheelchair to watch the evening’s fireworks, but he gently declines. A twinge reflects the growing reality of him never seeing fireworks again, but the feeling is moderated by resolved acceptance and mild resignation.
I go out into the corridor where people have already gathered by the windows next to the elevators. From the heights of the hospital, there are spectacular views of the downtown peninsula, towards Burrard Inlet, English Bay, and the waters of the Salish Sea. What sacred spirits have come and gone, then and the now.
Waiting patiently to catch a brief glimpse of fireworks are other hospital patients, their family, and various hospital staff taking breaks in their work schedule. It’s a four-day holiday weekend here in the province of British Columbia, and early August weather is summertime hot under the dome of clear blue skies.
Judging by the look in some people’s eyes, I empathize with feelings which must remain unspoken: “I’d rather be outside, laughing and having a good time, surrounded by family and friends.”
I thought about making a few photographs of the fireworks through the large windows, but something pulls me back, and I decide not to image the fireworks directly.
My thinking about this situation quickly clarifies. What I’ll do is record people watching the fireworks through the windows of the hospital’s upper floors.
They are not forgotten. It’s my promise to capture with a camera’s all-seeing eye an elemental and universal desire for something beyond the ephemeral and temporal, something that approaches a kind of eternity.
Fireworks, for the living and the dying
The 2014 version of The Celebration of Light brought hundreds of thousands of spectators into Vancouver’s West End for fireworks displays from United States, France, and Japan.
I made the photos above on 2 August 2014 from St. Paul’s Hospital in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-5tZ. Edited 4 Aug 2019.
3 Responses to “Vancouver: the forgotten’s fireworks from St. Paul’s”
Beautiful Henry – both the words and the images.
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[…] Next to the PCU on the 10th floor, there’s a section where the windows next to the elevators face west to English Bay. We watch the annual summer fireworks through the glass. There are subdued voices, interrupted by the sounds of mobile phones as people attempt to take pictures. There’s no shouting, whooping, or clapping. Patients, family and friends, and various on- and off-shift hospital staff all gaze equally and quietly into the Salish Sea. (I wrote about this surreal experience here.) […]