Monday, August 06, 2007

Eva's Day

Yesterday was good.
Eva's ashes were scattered under the small tree in Mike and Morag's back garden. Words were spoken, a poem was read, drinks were drunk, and people were hugged. I got to wear my kilt and get introduced to loads of people I will never meet again. I sat, talked, played with the kids, and gave Mike a hug when he needed one. It was, strange to say, a good day. A sad one but good.
I think it has helped.

Just before the moment when Mike and Morag planted the tree and scattered their daughter's ashes beneath it, a camera was thrust into my hands by Morag's brother-in-law who had to go help them. They both wanted loads of photos of this moment and I had, at a moment's notice, been elected to take them. It was a very odd, unsettling, and unpleasant feeling. I took the photos, with part of my brain in automatic phototaking mode - trying to frame the picture so that no one's heads were sticking out of plant pots and moving to get clear shots without having someone's ear filling half the screen - but another part of my brain was feeling incredibly uncomfortable, as if I was intruding , taking pictures of my friends on what was a very sad, personal moment. Though I knew they wanted the photos taken, it somehow felt very - wrong.
And, even as I was taking the pictures, I realised this is what press photographers do every day. All those photos we see in the papers taken in war zones and disaster areas, the endless streams of images of death, illness, and despair, someone has to take them. I wondered how they do it, how they distance themselves from what they are seeing and take the photos they have to. The very nature of what they do means they have to look at the unpleasant and distressing much more closely than many of us could imagine. I wondered how they cope - I also found it pretty amazing how much thinking about the totally abstract I can do when feeling incredibly uncomfortable with my situation. Don't think about it, just do it - and if you do have to think, think about something else! Maybe that's how they do it.
Having that camera in my hand did remove me from the moment. Having a task, a role, something to do I was, for those few minutes, an observer of the event when I really wanted to be a participant.
I was glad to hand the camera back so I could join everyone again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are all amazing x

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