grief

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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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
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Done Monkeying Around

The child’s grave this remembrance occupies bears no marker nor name, providing no details about the story it tells. For me, this is the saddest photograph I captured while photographing the series I’m calling A Grave Image. I’ve tagged each of the 15 posts in the series with “A Grave Image”, too, so they can be viewed easily and dynamically as a complete collection at any time using that tag.

Some of you might be pleased to hear that this is my last entry for a while in this series. It was never really meant to be a series, but since people seem to like the photos I kept them coming. I will most likely post and append additional photos to it from time to time moving forward, but for now I wish to move on to some other (potentially brighter) subjects. Although grave decorations are a gloomy topic, they offer an interesting look at grief and one aspect of our attempts to honor the memory of a loved one. The experience of taking (and processing) these photos has included some significantly cathartic personal moments. Others readers have seen something appealing or curious about these images, too, because the number of daily blog views has been up more than double the recent norm on some days. Perhaps it’s foolish of me to switch my focus when it’s having a positive impact on blog exposure, but I’ve spent enough time haunting the local cemetery for a little while.

"Done Monkeying Around", Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/8.0 at 1/100 sec., 68mm

“Done Monkeying Around”, Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/8.0 at 1/100 sec., 68mm
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Details of My Social Life

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

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Grief Evolved

Overgrown and long neglected, Nature is working to reclaim this Rose Hill Cemetery grave decoration. My imagination takes note of the leafy cluster that has formed under the left eye, like tears, reflecting the sorrow of having been forgotten. It’s a striking reminder that “gone but not forgotten” is an epitaph that’s only valid for as long as there’s someone around who remembers.

"Grief Evolved", Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/5.6 at 1/160 sec., 150mm

“Grief Evolved”, Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/5.6 at 1/160 sec., 150mm

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Why?

Ours is not to reason why
the time’s so short.
We live, we die.

It’s pretty clear that this angel has held its post as a faithful graveside companion for many years. It’s undoubtedly been time enough to conclude there are some mysteries that don’t have a solution small enough for the mind of man to conceive.

"Why?", Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/5.6 at 1/1600 sec., 150mm

“Why?”, Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/5.6 at 1/1600 sec., 150mm
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Games Never Played

Today’s photo is another grave image from the local cemetery. This baseball sits at the base of a large granite headstone for a young boy. I believe it was left here as a memento in 1996, a conclusion I’m basing on what appears to be a “96” written under the part of the inscription visible in the photo. If that’s correct, then I’m puzzled how it has held up so well in the Florida sun and rain. Gifts like this seem to represent acts of healing; coping with having to let go. I get it.

In the months that have followed James’ death from cancer, I have more than once shed tears over having neglected to place in his coffin a photo of Skoshi, his beloved Siamese “shadow” (for she definitely was “his cat” and stayed inseparably glued to his side). I would also like to have placed the favorite book we had in common, Ellen G. White’s The Desire of Ages. (I know of at least 5 times he read it over the years we shared together and that he’d also read it several times before that.) I know that ultimately, I would have been the beneficiary of putting these items by his side, not him. Grief is a quickly mutating monster that operates outside of logic. And regret is a special hell when mixed with a large portion of shattered dreams and a splash of words unspoken. Shaken and stirred, you cope as you can.

"Games Never Played", Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/5.6 at 1/320 sec., 300mm Click to Enlarge View

“Games Never Played”, Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/5.6 at 1/320 sec., 300mm
Click for Enlarged View

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

I tweet and Twitter from @earlharrisphoto

A Light Touch

“I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty every day.”
— Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Canadian teacher and author, excerpted from the poem The Invitation

Today’s photo is another in the new series I have spontaneously found myself working on, and which I’m calling A Grave Image. Let me know what you think.

"A Light Touch" Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/5.6 at 1/80 sec., 300mm

“A Light Touch” Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/5.6 at 1/80 sec., 300mm
Click here for a large view.

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Details of my social life

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

I’m tweeting and Twittering at @earlharrisphoto

Like my Facebook page

Grave Offerings

As I wander through cemeteries, I am always struck by the variety of offerings to the dead that I encounter. Sometimes they are simple: a flower; a photo; a favorite toy; bottles of soda or alcohol; a statuette… In other cases, they can be quite elaborate. I am most intrigued by those things left behind that imply an element of ritual, and I wonder if they are meant to appease a potentially restless spirit or an angry god/God. For one who believes the spirits of the dead are wandering around in the ether or that God demands appeasement rather than having a character of love, I suppose these gifts serve both a symbolic and a functional or practical purpose. I am intrigued by how they are often indicative of a broader culture or faith while simultaneously revealing the very individualized and personal ways we employ to cope with the death of a loved one.

"Grave Offerings" [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/4.0 at 1/25 sec., 85mm

“Grave Offerings” Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/4.0 at 1/25 sec., 85mm
Click here to view a larger size.

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Photographing people, places, pets and ponderings.

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

Keep Shuttering

If you enjoyed today’s photo, please share this post. There are convenient buttons below for the big social networks that make this really easy to do.

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 there’s always Facebook

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Bright Darkness

In this world, which is so plainly the antechamber of another, there are no happy men. The true division of humanity is between those who live in light and those who live in darkness.
— Victor Hugo

"Bright Darkness" Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/5.3 at 1/80 sec., 98mm

“Bright Darkness” [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/5.3 at 1/80 sec., 98mm
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Photographing people, places, pets and ponderings.

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

Let’s Get Social
If you enjoyed today’s post, please share it with somebody.

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

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And of course, I’m on Facebook

Touched by a Toy

“There is no greater sorrow than to recall happiness in times of misery.”
— Dante Alighieri

We buried my great aunt on Monday, who died in her sleep after 103 years of remarkable life. Walking through the cemetery, I came upon this marker for an 11 year-old boy who died in 1965. Uncomfortable, isn’t it?

"Sleep Companion" [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/8.0 at 1/125 sec., 160mm

“Sleep Companion” [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/8.0 at 1/125 sec., 160mm
Prints are available here.

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Photographing people, places, pets and ponderings.

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

Let’s Get Social

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Follow me on Instagram at @earlharrisphoto, where I am posting photos (and a bunch of kitty pics!) captured and edited on my iPhone. #herekittykitty #instagramcats

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