Most images are still sitting latent on a piece of plastic,
buried in a few layers of chemicals, waiting to be resolved. It has been over two months, and the two cameras that made those images have hardly made any others. It is a struggle to finish off the rolls inside of them, knowing that once they are finished and replaced I will be compelled to develop them.
This one was made and seen instantly. It sat on my phone, though, and was quickly hidden by the dozens and hundreds of random images that followed. It was taken moments after the last moments of my brother’s life. If it is anything at all, it is a representation of the texture of a moment in an intensive care unit, more than it is anything about a man.
To have documents of this moment are a curse, first. To be in the presence of that event—to witness something slip away that you never thought would leave you—is humbling and exhausting. The compulsion to document it felt almost callous, but when you are in that state, unsure of what you might have left, you want to make more. You want to have more pieces of that person, even if they seem overly morbid or forlorn. It was my last chance, in a sense, to make something about the two of us.
Documenting death, then, was the most dramatic way of illustrating that need to represent myself in something else. Seeking immortality in a moment—injecting myself or my way of seeing into a situation that is beyond me (and, well, they are almost all beyond me).
Again, then, this isn’t a representation of my brother. It is a reflection of a circumstance that I imagine none of us would ever choose, even though he did, ostensibly. For me, it does not even bring up his memory beyond those few days in that hospital. The smells and noises in that room, the food in the cafeteria, the moments with my family that spanned from pure grief to optimism and back, hearing nurse after nurse talk about levels of versed.
I am, on some levels, terrified of getting the film back. Just as I am about all of my feelings surrounding this. Learning to address these things, and the relics of these events is something we all have to face at some point. From well-loved pets to our spouses and our closest friends, we are impossibly lucky to have people worth mourning—which is a small consolation.
If nothing else, this image and possibly the others, give a context for myself to feel comfortable sharing certain thoughts about an otherwise astonishing and paralyzing tragedy.
I love and miss you, brother.