Excuse me while I refill my whiskey glass… I’m going to write this and then go pack my camera gear. I head out in the morning for southern Nevada to do a site visit for one of my projects. The Girl and I will drive down there tomorrow and do a little light field work in the afternoon. We’ll probably stop for a couple of geocaches on the way, then drive into Pahrump to spend the night. Friday we’ll be in the field with the client. Then we’ll spend Friday night again in Pahrump to drive home Saturday. I plan to drive through Death Valley on the way home, do a little geocaching, and make a few images. I am looking forward to the trip.
I think one of my mistakes is not taking a weekend a month and driving somewhere. The road time is good for my head. The sights of new places is good for my eyes. The Girl is good for me. I have no idea what she gets from our relationship, but she obviously gets something from it. She seeks out my time and attention (except when she’s pissed at me for whatever doggish reason — hmmm… sounds kinda like girlish reason, doesn’t it?). She wants to go when I go and stay when I stay. I don’t exactly understand, but it doesn’t matter. The relationship works.
A few days ago we walked up to the community mailbox to retrieve the mail. While I was there, I noticed this fallen rubber band, either lost or discarded. I don’t know which. But the shape of it reminded me of the traditional heart-shape we use in our culture. The light was fairly interesting. The only camera I had with me was my Moto X. So, I made the shot with a phone-camera. The camera you have with you is the best camera.
I posted this on my social accounts. DiL commented she would have noticed the heart-shape too. She’s an artist; I’m not. But I loved the comment anyway.
I titled this “Found, Lost Love” or “Lost Love, Found.” Both work, I think. The only post-processing was addition of the vignette to draw the eye to the geometry of the rubber band.
But the reference goes much deeper. A year ago we were in the thick of it. Wife had been sent home by her medical team to die. They did what the could. The cancer did not respond to radiation treatment. There was nothing left to do. The stress on Wife to make the 82-mile journey everyday was telling. She was losing strength daily. She had lost her ability to speak and most of her mobility. It was not a good place to be.
She didn’t want to give up. I know her. I know how she thinks. Surrender was not an option. But, although she didn’t want to give up, she knew she wasn’t improving. In the end, when asked, she said “I want to go home and rest.”
I think those were the most difficult seven words I ever heard. It broke my heart to realize that this was it. All the work, the travel, the hope, and the fear peaked in those few words.
The staff came by to say goodbye. They knew. They have seen it all before. Everyone leaves their care at some time. Some go home healed, completely or partially. Some go home to die. It’s part of the gig. But they were sincere and compassionate and it was an honor to see them salute Wife’s effort to get relief from her disease. We brought her home that afternoon, all of us quiet, reflecting on what we learned and what was coming. And so the vigil began.
A lot of my emotions rose when I saw the heart-shaped rubber band the other afternoon. I instantly made the connection of a lost-love, found. My love is lost, gone from this life forever. I want no other and as my year-of-firsts approaches its end, nothing is really changed. Wife is gone and will not be returning.
I still wonder what to do with that. My expectation was that I would retire, fully or partially, and we would do the things we talked about for so many years. With her demise, that’s changed. In this new life, I am moving to a second career as a photographer and writer. But no longer will I be husband and lifemate.
What does this mean? What does any of it mean? Is there anything of significance in this?
I’m not sure I have any answers. All I know is that I carry on. I’ll work a few more years in my current engagement, so long as enough work exists to keep me employed. Then I’ll move to a new phase of my life, providing my health holds, and take on a few engineering assignments that interest me. They will pay well. I intend to spend the rest of my time traveling to see my family and to make images of interesting places and things as well as write about my experiences.
I know what I believe. I am not a religious man. But I have faith. What I believe cannot be proven. That changes nothing about how I intend to conduct myself. Regardless of whether my faith proves true or false, I intend to live what I believe. My hope is that Wife and I will have “time” to talk again. I would love that. But I cannot know because it can’t be proven.