Coping with Cancer

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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Best Friend

“The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.”
Proverbs 12:10 (NIV)

Someone glued angel wings onto the back of this dog figurine before placing it at the grave of their loved one. I liked the way this particular token of remembrance provides a glimpse of the character of the person at rest here. I couldn’t help but find significance in the dog’s upward gaze toward the heavens. I look that direction a lot, too.

"Best Friend"

“Best Friend”, Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/2.8 at 1/4000 sec., 28mm
Click the image to view larger size and available print options.

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Photographing people, places, pets and ponderings.

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

All of Me

“These wounds won’t seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There’s just too much that time cannot erase”
— Evanescence,
My Immortal

As you can see, I spent some time at the local cemetery again, pondering and perusing the grave decorations. I came upon a few decorations I wanted to photograph for inclusion in my series A Grave Image, and will share those in my next few posts. There is something oddly cathartic for me in the making of these images; something that makes losing James take on a broader context among so many other monuments and tokens commemorating life, friendship and undying love. I find community and understanding in these visual testimonies placed here by fellow members of the fraternity of grief into which I’ve been involuntarily swept up and irrevocably indoctrinated.

I’m pretty happy with the way this turned out. She seemed to take on a life of her own during post-processing and the final image emerged without any forethought of creative intent on my part. I hope you like it.

"The Third Angel" - copyright 2014, earlharrisphotography

“The Third Angel”, Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/2.8 at 1/2500 sec., 28mm
Click the image to view larger size and available print options.

=^,,^=
Photographing people, places, pets and ponderings.

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

The Comfort of Sorrows

“Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.”
–Patti Smith

"The Comfort of Sorrows", Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/3.2 at 1/4000 sec., 27mmClick the image to view larger size and available print options.

“The Comfort of Sorrows”, Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/3.2 at 1/4000 sec., 27mm
Click the image to view larger size and available print options.

=^,,^=
Photographing people, places, pets and ponderings.

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

Beyond the Dividing Line

Our mind is capable of passing beyond the dividing line we have drawn for it. Beyond the pairs of opposites of which the world consists, other, new insights begin.
     — Hermann Hesse

"Looking Out"

“Looking Out”, Nikon D800, ISO 400, f/1.4 at 1/60 sec., 50mm
Click for enlarged view.

=^,,^=
Photographing people, places, pets and ponderings.

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

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Going Social

You’ll find me on Instagram at @earlharrisphoto, posting photos captured and edited on my iPhone. I post a lot of photos of cats there, too. #herekittykitty #instagramcats

I tweet and Twitter from @earlharrisphoto

And I have a page on Facebook

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Last Stand in Stockton – Revisited

Last September, I posted a photo I had taken in July just before the onset of the whirlwind that snatched James and me out of Utah and landed us in Florida. I wasn’t really happy with the photo, but in a rush to try to get something on my blog I threw up an “as is” version anyway. With James’ miracle of healing and pronouncement of being cancer-free despite an original terminal prognosis, our lives are no longer being primarily spent at Orlando’s M. D. Anderson Cancer Clinic. I am thus finding time to blog again on a more regular schedule.

One of the things I’ve been looking forward to was revisiting that photo – one of the first I captured with my pawn shop find of a Mamiya 645 Super medium format film camera. Here it is; I’m much happier with it now. I hope you like it, too.

Mamiya 645 Super, Ilford FP4 Plus ISO 125 film, 50 mm (I failed to record the shutter speed and f/stop used.)

Mamiya 645 Super, Ilford FP4 Plus ISO 125 film, 50 mm (I failed to record the shutter speed and f/stop used.)

As a side note, the period of inactivity on this blog understandably diminished its following. If you like this post, I would be extremely grateful if you’d please consider sharing it with others. And please come back again!

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Websites for Photographers

Stepping Forward

I received an unexpected email this week from a wonderful friend that has inspired me. She is standing up for what she believes is right by speaking out for those whose voices have been silenced. With her permission, I am sharing that email with you. Aside from being a means to convey some remarkable news with you about my partner’s cancer, it’s a touching example of how our suffering has the potential to help others. It’s further evidence that we can never know how lives may be touched by our own experiences. It’s further evidence of the power of love.

Nikon D300, ISO 500, 1/125 sec at f/22, Nikkor 35 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 500, 1/125 sec at f/22, Nikkor 35 mm

Each month we attend a meeting for our local Scouting District. Tonight, at this months meeting you can only guess what was the topic that has all the Bible-beaters in a tizzy – that Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is considering changing the membership standards to remove restrictions on sexual orientation. One of the speakers was our District Executive, Guy – an employee of the Atlanta Area Council. Guy spoke briefly on the topic basically telling us that nothing would change until BSA’s final decision is made in a few months. But, the Atlanta Area Council wanted feedback from the local Scout leaders. Guy also told us that he would be glad to listen to any input from us leaders…no matter which side of the issue that we we on. I did take him up on that offer.

I said “Guy, I would like to tell you a story about one of my oldest and dearest friends – a man that I have known for more than 30 years. A man of sterling character and high standards. A man with a very strong faith in God. A man that can be described with the words from the Scout Law – Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent….all the values that I want my son to have. A truly GOOD man. Last year I got some devastating news – that he had cancer of the throat. I was absolutely heartbroken that we were going to lose such a good person to such a horrible disease. Then last month, I got a phone call and when I saw the name on the Caller ID my heart stopped, my throat tightened up and my eyes filled with tears. I didn’t want to take the call because I didn’t want to hear the news that I had been fearing and dreading. The expressions on my face had to have been hysterically comical when I was told that an entire team of doctors was flabbergasted, they had NEVER seen a tumor of this type respond to chemotherapy, but his tumor was GONE! Yes, GONE! It can only be described as a MIRACLE! No other explanation – an outright miracle! He was healed by the mercy of God because God deemed him worthy of life….but he can’t be a member of BSA because he’s gay. It’s an archaic and stupid rule that HAS to change and the sooner the better. Please feel free to use my name and tell your Council Executive that both me and my husband are most emphatically in favor of a change in the membership standards.”

Poor Guy – he just stood there all wide-eyed and could only say “Wow! Thanks for sharing that with me….and I’m glad that your friend is going to be OK.” I said “I’m thrilled that he’s going to live longer, but he has always been “OK” and it’s high time that BSA thinks so, too!”

I love you both and am proud to call you my friends.

– Sarena

Isn’t that just awesome? Sometimes you’ve just got to be willing to step forward.

Struggling for Hope

Nikon D300, ISO 500, 85mm, f/5.6, 1/25 sec

Nikon D300, ISO 500, 85mm, f/5.6, 1/25 sec

Broken and torn, shattered
shards of dreams and promises litter the floor
inflicting new pain as we step through the memories
progress, hindered by repetition of the unknown and the unwanted.

Agony, punctuated by tears
what happened? why this? why him? please wake up!
this isn’t where we’re supposed to be
remorse for what has been lost, fear of what is to come.

The loved and the loving
stand helpless and unappeased
watching lives dissolving in torrents of wet grief
mouths incapable of finding words to match the depth of the heart.

Trust, believe and fight, fight, fight
there is a plan, a purpose not yet revealed
counsels echo through the hours in the struggle for hope
and he reaches out to touch the hem of a beautiful cherished robe.

– December 10, 2012

AN EXPLANATION

Last August, on the eve of my birthday, we learned that my partner of 20 years had a new battle with cancer to fight. Having already been through 5 surgeries over the course of 4 years, we thought we had passed through this valley once and for all when he was pronounced cancer-free following radiation treatments ending in October, 2011. A PET scan reiterated this finding in February, 2012.With the August pronouncement of a new tumor in a new location, we packed our house and moved across the country to be closer to family. Perhaps you have noticed that this had a significant impact on my ability to post on my blog until now. With computer and camera gear now accessible at last, I shall strive to update it more regularly, occasionally sharing moments of this journey into hell and perhaps finding a bit of catharsis in the process.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

So, I’ve been rather behind on keeping up with posts the last couple of weeks. There are major life events unfolding that are, frankly, my only priority right now. More on that to come in a future post.

Therefore, today’s post is my first ever (to my recollection) that doesn’t feature an original photograph. Instead it features a music video of Eva Cassidy, singing what I have believed for years is the best version of this song ever recorded. Eva lost her battle with cancer before soaring to the heights of fame she could have easily achieved.

I post this in honor and hope for those now battling cancer. Never stop fighting.

Eva Cassidy performing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, live at Blues Alley

Learn more about Eva Cassidy: The Eva Cassidy Story (on ABC Nightline)

If her voice doesn’t move you, you can’t be moved.