It was the evening of his wake. He always loved photographs. But then again, who doesn’t. It captures an exact moment in someone’s life. Memories. The room was filled with memories, with pictures. Pictures of our vacations, holidays and pictures he had taken of his favorite places. Everywhere I went I was surrounded by love. People who knew him shared their stories and it gave comfort to those who were mourning. As weeks passed by, everyone who was once mourning had seemed to move on, except me. I was left with an empty heart. Something was missing. Courage overcame my sadness when I finally decided to sort through his possessions. So many boxes’ filled with junk. What am I going to do with all of this? Should I throw it away? But I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t simply put things behind you because you don’t want to face the challenges of what you may encounter. It only took one word to give me the courage to continue, “photographs.” That’s the word I saw on the box. Dust filled the photographs, indicating the last time they have been seen. I felt myself stuck in a moment as my fingertip traced my fathers’ smile down to his blue suede shoes. My Uncle Mark giving my father a hard time at the poker table, while the woman were in the kitchen cooking. I could hear my mother yelling that dinner was ready and the men replying “ONE LAST HAND.” A set of cards lay on the table; a full house. My father had played this game for many years; people said he had the best poker face in New York.
“Looking as if she was alive.” I murmured as a tear streamed down my right cheek.
It was in that moment I realized that he is truly gone. Sunday dinner and poker games will no longer take place. The laughs and conversations are now voices in my head that will bring me equal amounts of sadness and joy.
This is the moment I want to remember. I put the photograph in a rustic frame and placed it on top of my bedside dresser. As I sat on the edge of my bed staring at the photograph, the smiles began to fill my heart. I felt a tingle sensation that could only be described as one feeling, comfort.
The box of photographs were mainly all negatives. Photographic negatives in which a stranger would never be able to see the picture clearly, but I can. A sheet of plastic film featuring friendly familiar smiles, surrounded by a dark image appearing lighter and a light image appearing darker. He always said the photographs that appeared negative were the ones most important to him. When I asked him why he replied, “because the negatives can also be used for retouching, removing the blemishes and creating a photograph finished with a positive print.”