cancer

Let It Go

When your mind is numb and frozen from grief, it’s normal to want to smack those who summarily insist, “everything happens for a reason.” And there are probably some instances where it’s healthy to actually do so. Let it go.

"Silk Silence",  Nikon D700, ISO 200, f/2.8 at 1/250th sec., 200mm

“Silk Silence”, Nikon D700, ISO 200, f/2.8 at 1/250th sec., 200mm

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Photographing people, places, pets and ponderings throughout Central Florida.

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Empty

“We hear only our own voices, still echoes returning to our emptiness.”
—Dejan Stojanovic,
The Sun Watches the Sun

James and I should be celebrating 23 years of life together today. Instead, I just feel the emptiness of grief.

"Empty", Nikon D800, ISO 400, f/8 at 1/160 sec., 17 mm

“Empty”, Nikon D800, ISO 400, f/8 at 1/160 sec., 17 mm

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Photographing people, places, pets and ponderings
throughout Central Florida.

You Are My Sunshine

You are my Sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are grey
You’ll never know, dear,
How much I love you
Death can’t take my Sunshine away.

Remembering my husband, James Cantrell, on this 1st anniversary of losing him to cancer.

"James" [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 100, f/2.0 at 1/5000 sec., 50 mm

“James” [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 100, f/2.0 at 1/5000 sec., 50 mm

iPhone-James_Earl_Holding_hands_w_Rings-800x600.jpg

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That Thing With Feathers

Hope is the thing with feathers –
that perches in the soul –
and sings the tunes without the words –
and never stops – at all…

— Emily Dickinson

Today is James’ birthday. This is one of the “firsts” I have been dreading; James and I always treated each other to a special dinner at a favorite or must-try fine restaurant for our birthdays. That time has past, that life is gone. Knowing I didn’t want to be anywhere else today, I drove to North Georgia to spend the day with his mom, sister and brother. We will visit and place flowers on his grave. We will grieve. We will mourn. We will find joy in our love, comfort and hope in our faith. But despite all that we will share, we will walk away with nothing to fill the holes in our hearts and still too many days until we will see him again.

Happy birthday, James. You are — and will always be — my sunshine.

"At-one-ment", Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/10 at 1/100 sec., 122mm

“At-one-ment”, Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/10 at 1/100 sec., 122mm
Click on the image to view larger size and available print options.

Carly Simon: You Are My Sunshine

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Photographing people, places, pets and ponderings.

Booking family, personal, business and pet portrait sittings throughout Central Florida.

Pitcher Picture

“For sighing has become my daily bread; my groans pour out like water.”
— Job 3:24

"Pitcher Picture", Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/5.6 at 1/100 sec., 135mmClick for enlarged view and available print options.

“Pitcher Picture”, Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/5.6 at 1/100 sec., 135mm
Click the image for an enlarged view and print options.

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Photographing people, places, pets and ponderings.

Booking family, personal, business and pet portrait sittings throughout Central Florida.

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The Corruption of Beauty

“The first sign of corruption in a society that is still alive is that the end justifies the means.”
— Georges Bernanos

Seeing that my Gun Control? post went over like a fart in church, today’s photo is an attempt at some abstract redemption. This is one of those rare photos where a title and complete concept for how I would process it came together instantly and spontaneously on first view of the RAW image file. I love that.

James bought this orchid last summer when the cancer was briefly in remission. As it is now in bloom for the first time since its purchase, I thought it was a good subject for a Valentine’s Day photo. I wish he could have seen it bloom.

"The Corruption of Beauty", Nikon D800 in DX mode, ISO 100, f/8.0 at 1 sec., 60mm DX micro

“The Corruption of Beauty”, Nikon D800 in DX mode, ISO 100, f/8.0 at 1 sec., 60mm DX micro
Click the image for a larger view or to purchase a print.

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Photographing people, places, pets and ponderings.

Booking family, personal, business and pet portrait sittings throughout Central Florida.

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A Social Presence

Find me on Instagram at @earlharrisphoto, posting photos captured and edited on my iPhone. I post a lot of cat photos… #herekittykitty #instagramcats

Twittering and tweeting from @earlharrisphoto

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Eggsistential

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
Four-score Men and Four-score more,
Could not make Humpty Dumpty what he was before.
      — Samuel Arnold, Juvenile Amusements, 1797

I am a few days early for a new year’s eve message, but today’s photo prompts me to get on with it. As I was walking along a sidewalk downtown, I came upon an egg that had fallen out of a nest built on a street light above. The sun had dried out the splattered yolk and a few ants scurried about the broken shell, feasting on misfortune. It struck me as a fitting reflection and symbol of the year that now comes to a close.

Despite the many advances in GLBT rights, I will forever equate 2013 to loss, destruction, pain and death. It is the year that shattered my life of happiness with James, watching him so cruelly and horrifyingly being eaten alive by cancer. Like a new and long-hoped-for egg, we embarked on the adventure of marriage on July 29 – after 21 years together – only to have that monumental accomplishment tossed out and splattered across the sidewalk a month-and-a-half later. Now, I sit alone in a nest that echoes with emptiness while hell taunts me with thoughts of what was and what never will be.

Goodbye, 2013 – and good riddance! I pray that 2014 will be a year that holds some hope of starting to heal from the experience this egg and I have shared. Perhaps my hopes are tainted by knowing all-too-well how Humpty Dumpty turned out.

"Eggsistential" [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/2.0 at 1/350 sec., 85mm

“Eggsistential” [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/2.0 at 1/350 sec., 85mm
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Please vote for this blog in the 2013 Cool Photo Blog Awards – just click here and it’s done. Many thanks for your support!

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Now booking individual, couples, family and business portrait sessions for 2014

Current Social Engagements

Find me on Instagram at @EarlHarrisPhoto, where I am posting photos (including lots of kitty pics!) captured and edited solely on my iPhone. #herekittykitty #instagramcats

Tweeting from @EarlHarrisPhoto

And, of course, I’m on Facebook.

Living Through Death

At 7:15 AM on Thursday morning, 12 September 2013, the love of my life closed his eyes and won his 5-year battle with cancer. He will no longer play host to this hellish disease. No more will it eat away and destroy his body. No more hospice workers, medications, blood draws, infusions, scans and probes. Because cancer rendered him incapable of swallowing, no more must he agonize from going over 40 days without nutrition, save small amounts of water misted into his mouth with a squirt bottle so he could just let moisture trickle down his throat. No more will it cause him to worry about those he leaves behind. Yes, James won his fight with cancer, despite the fact it claimed his life.

To know James was to know a man of great faith. He had no fear of death and no fear of dying. He only feared what his death would do to those cherished loved ones he would leave behind. I believe that James won his battle, despite the fact cancer took him from us.  I believe this because, while it took his body, it did not take our love. It did not take our hope. It did not take our memories. It did not take the warmth that stirs in the heart when we think of James. It didn’t erase the impact he had on so many lives nor what he meant to so many people. It didn’t destroy friendships. It didn’t erase the innumerable acts of kindness and charity that James performed throughout his life. It didn’t unrescue all the animals he so compassionately rescued nor his ability to always put others before himself. It didn’t undo the joy that I learned comes from serving the one you love; from giving of yourself completely in order to care for their every need in any way you can.

In October, James and I would have celebrated 22 years together. During the course of these years, James taught me what it truly meant to love others. He provided a daily example of the life and vitality that comes from having a relationship with God – even if you’re gay. Prior to getting too sick to do so, each morning as James would get out of bed, he would walk straight to our bedroom window, raise the blinds, look outside and thank God for another day of life — another day for us to be together and another day to be with Him. By his examples, he taught me so many lessons with no awareness that he was doing so.

iPhone selfie moments after we were married in D.C.

iPhone selfie caught moments after we were married in D.C.

On June 26, when we first heard the news on MSNBC that the Supreme Court had struck down DOMA, James – not feeling too great after a chemo treatment – looked at me from his bed. With tears in his eyes and a smile on his face, he asked me to marry him. It is one of two moments I shall forever cherish. The second was July 29th, when – despite being weak and unusually sick from chemo, James insisted we stick to our plans to fly to Washington D.C. to be married, returning home the same day. Those few minutes it took for Rev. Cedric Harmon to officiate as we exchanged our vows in the shade of a tree on the courthouse lawn are among the best minutes of my life; I have never been so proud. That the events around DOMA unfolded in such a way and a time that James and I could realize our long-held dream of getting married was a blessing and a gift.

The photo of James below was taken in June, when his sister and childhood friend TC were down for a visit. We drove over to Canaveral Seashore, and I managed to capture this shot of James looking out at the water from the safety of the wooden steps leading from the parking lot to the sand. I was pleased because James hated having his photo taken and seldom would let me do it. I think he probably knew it would be one of the last times I’d ask.

As I heal from my grief and begin to refocus my energies back toward photography and building my business here in Central Florida, posts on I Shutter at the Thought! will resume and eventually take on some regularity again. Thank you for your support during what has been a consuming and stressful time. So many of you have reached out to me and offered me words of much needed encouragement, support and prayers. Please know your efforts have sustained me.

"James" [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 100, f/2.0 at 1/5000 sec., 50 mm

“James” [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 100, f/2.0 at 1/5000 sec., 50 mm

In closing, I include this video from Carly Simon, which I was thrilled to find on YouTube. It is my favorite version of a song I often sang to myself and subjected James to as I cared for him over the last year, when things got so bad. It’s a song about light, for a person who was a light and a beacon for so many.

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Find me on Instagram at @EarlHarrisPhoto, where I am posting photos captured and edited solely on my iPhone. If you like cats, I seem to be posting a lot of photos of them there… #instagramcats

Celebrating the life of a good friend who’s passed

Thank you, John, for providing me with today’s post. I will cherish this.

A View From The Middle (Class)

This is one of those articles I haven’t wanted to write, but the need to do so still exists.  My family lost a good friend today.  However, the belief is still there that the parting need not be sorrowful, it’s more a matter of time until we meet again.

James Cantrell died this morning in Florida after a long and agonizing yet still courageous battle with cancer.  Those are hard words to write.  They’re words that bring about anger — aimed directly at the illness that took James’ life, and the lives of too many others.

But, knowing James, he wouldn’t want us to be sad for long.  He’d want us to celebrate the life that he led.

In many ways, it was the kind of life everyone could take a piece from and use as an example on how to live it to the fullest, and to show how…

View original post 1,443 more words

Handle with Hope

“This is the sad thing about love: we love hard and we grieve hard.”
– Unknown

On Facebook today, a friend posted this truth on my wall: “Having to see someone you love so much in such pain is grief.” Unfortunately, they couldn’t be more correct. Yet, when doctors tell you there is no hope, have hope. Hope provides balance in the face of despair. Without hope, there would be no miracles.

I apologize that new posts have been infrequent these last few weeks. New photos and new work have had to take a back seat to caring for James as he struggles to survive. Thank you for your continued support as we cope with the horror and heartbreak of cancer.

"Door Handle" [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/2.4 at 1/750 sec., 200 mm

“Door Handle” [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/2.4 at 1/750 sec., 200 mm

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I’d still love to get a vote from you in the 2013 COOL PHOTOBLOG AWARDS. As I’ve stated before, there’s nothing to fill out, no gimmicks, no requests for your email address – just a simple click and it’s done. THANK YOU for your support!

You can also find me on Instagram at @EarlHarrisPhoto, where I am posting photos captured and edited solely on my iPhone.