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 cook in a nearby downtown diner. He eats with great enthusiasm, the most I’ve seen him eat in weeks. Dinner’s done, and he’s worn out. I mention we can 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 with long 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 and onto English Bay.
Waiting patiently to catch a brief glimpse of fireworks are other hospital patients, their family and friends, 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 clear blue skies.
Judging by the look in some people’s eyes, I empathize with the unspoken feelings: “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 shoot the fireworks directly.
The situation and my thinking quickly clarify. Instead, I’ll record the people watching the fireworks through the windows of the hospital’s upper floors.
They are not forgotten. It’s my promise to capture with the camera’s all-seeing eye an elemental and universal desire for something more, something approaching the above and beyond.
The 2014 version of The Celebration of Light brings hundreds of thousands of spectators into Vancouver’s West End for a fireworks festival with United States, France, and Japan, each with their own evening.