Give It Your Best Shot!
“It won’t be long for our friend Lina, do you think you can help me put together a slideshow tribute,” says the email I received today at work.
As I sit her sorting through the photos I’ve collected of our friend Lina over the past few years and as I wait for more photos from friends to come in my Inbox, I started to think about life. My religious background taught me that death is just a separation, merely moving from temporal life here on earth into eternity. But really, what happens after death? Yes, we continue living but in different form; but will we actually be able to witness what’s going on down here afterwards? I don’t think no one really knows with 100% certainty.
This past year, I have had the privilege of observing people’s attitude about living…well, and dying as well. First, there’s the casual live a day at a time, not a thought about taking care of oneself, no second thoughts about engaging in dangerous even life threatening activities. They take life for granted.
Then, we have people on the other extreme—well, I think you have an idea of who they are—paranoid at even the mere taking of a pain reliever lest they fall in the tiniest percentage of getting the most adverse reaction to the medicine. They can’t enjoy life.
I also know of people who, because of the pain of recent loss or losses, have at times, become obsessed to leaving their life here—heartache so unbearable that the only cure is to be reunited with their departed loved ones. The meaning of life completely changed for them, they became incapable of putting life into their lives.
Lina battled cancer for about seven years. I remember how one Sunday just months ago, she excitedly told me that she was slowly getting to her weight loss goal. “Good, now add exercise or make them more challenging and you’ll reach your goal faster,” was my encouraging remark to her. Later on though, we found out that her loss weight was in fact because her cancer has progressed. Just about a month ago, our group had lunch with her. At that time, hadn’t we known better, we wouldn’t have thought that Lina was fighting cancer. She ate well, interacted with all of us, posed in front of the cameras the whole time. Then, this week’s daily updates—Lina was hospitalized. Lina isn’t doing well. Lina will be moved to a hospice. And today, we need to do her slideshow if we want to be able to show it to her before she dies. “Let’s shoot for tomorrow evening,” was one of the lines in this most recent email.
Lina, mid-40’s, not in good shape and by the way, was on oral chemotherapy during our group camping last summer. She was my hiking buddy. We talked a lot during that hike. Although dying did not dominate the entire conversation, a good portion of it was on her health condition and that life is going to be very short for her.
Lina, never married, no special someone, no children, other than siblings, nieces and nephews, and close friends, her immediate family is just her and herself. During our hike/talk, she expressed how she treasures her life and if there is anything in her power, she will prolong it. Yes, she can’t wait until her suffering is over. Yes, she is excited about meeting our Creator and starting her life eternal, but life had been so good for her, she wants more of it. I remember telling her how special she must be that her Creator allowed her the privilege of knowing when her time is close. For a lot of people, it’s a matter of minutes or a blink of an eye even.
Sweet lemons, perhaps she thought. No matter how anyone sugarcoats it, the fact remains that it still is beyond her (or humanity’s) control.
What does this have to do with photography? Well, soon but hopefully later, we or our loved ones will no longer be around physically. All we can hold on to are the happy memories we shared with them, the joy they effected in our lives and that special place they occupy in our hearts. What better way to share them with the future generations they were not given a chance to touch, but through photographs.
Apologies for the shade of blue in this blog. Let’s just all be reminded of the brevity of life. Sieze, cherish, and when you can, capture lots of those moments with "clicks". In other words, life is short, give it your best “shot”!
Photo credits: Jennifer Pitiquen.