This is my favourite photo of 2014.
It is a picture of a dying man: this man is my father.
He looks terrible as cancer has consumed all the good things in his body on the road to destruction. The ugly bruise over his left eye is from a fall which has led him here to the hospital. He’ll stay for 3 weeks and eventually wind up top-side in the Palliative Care unit. He will never return to the house of 38 years he and Mum bought for us, or to the neighbourhood of over 40 years. He will never see home again.
I remember telling mum at the beginning of 2014 he won’t survive the year, and as weeks progress into months, I also sense that slow creep, that sensation of something big about to happen. That awareness hovers for months, but I guess I’ve been preparing for his death for almost a full year.
The best part of this picture is his smile, and I can clearly see the recognition in his eyes, that I’m his son. This picture will likely always have the power to make me weep.
The day after I make this picture he slips into a waking coma; his spirit departs but his body remains behind.
Days later, I photograph the light of dusk over Vancouver; how was I to know it’d be his last?
Next morning, the phone rings. The call is short and the woman on the other end of the line is gentle but to the point: he’s taken his last breath. I remember saying “thank you for all you’ve done” and “goodbye”. I finish the call. I close my eyes. I’m tired. I hear the rising tide of white noise, steadily increasing in volume. I open my eyes. The noise stops. It’s a little after 615am, well into the light of an August summer morning. Time to begin the remaining time without Dad.
Father’s Day this year is Sunday, which coincidentally is also the summer solstice. Had he survived this far, Dad would have celebrated his 83rd birthday on Tuesday.
I made the photo above on 2 August 2014 at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC. I posted a version of this photo on Instagram. The title is from “Release”, written by Gossard, Ament, Krusen, McCready, & Vedder; the final blurb-quote is mine. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-6UT.