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My Camera Captured My Father as I Let Him Go


I took photos.

I took photos of my dad in the hours and minutes as he pressed forward to meet his death. Eight in all. I sent some of them via text to my own three kids, who could not be there with me -- their absence mainly due to my mother's wishes, her own fragility, and the fact that, after 11 days shy of 62 years of marriage, this moment belonged to her almost as much as to my dad. How she wanted to do it was how she deserved to do it. That's what my father would have said as well.

Mom, holding Dad's hand, spoke to him now and then. "Everyone loves you so much," she told him several times. Though Dad was unresponsive, and had been for hours, he did squeeze her hand twice. Neither she nor the hospice nurse nor my brother, who came and went, noticed me taking the photos with my iPhone of Dad bravely managing to breathe, and of the hands of my parents entwined. I didn't have permission. I felt compelled, though I wasn't sure why. I did understand why I felt guilty.

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