Digital Photography School put up an article the other day on using photography for personal growth. The woman who wrote it, Catherine Just, was struggling with being a new mom, and found herself taking a photo every day of the part of the process that was the most frustrating to her. In her case, it was not being able to get the little sprat to take his naps. She wound up with some emotionally stunning iPhone pics of herself and the bébé sleeping together. She said the photos -- and her attitude -- changed in about a month of doing this.
I had been wanting to document Mr. Wood's last year? journey? something, and struggling for a way to do it that captured our emotions but was respectful of his desire for privacy. For example, I wanted to go with him to the barber shop when he got his head shaved the other day (his hair and beard are falling out from the chemo), but he would have none of it. The notion of a daily photo of something that frustrated me really clicked, because that wouldn't necessarily be about him at all, but I still spent two or three days trying to figure out what the theme needed to be.
And finally, a light dawned. I'd been noticing a lot of nights, when it's time to go to bed and I discover I haven't cleaned up the kitchen yet and I'm already tired and my legs are already giving out, that I've been surveying the wreckage and saying to myself, "I'm tired of being a responsible adult." I want to go to bed, let my mother do it. And so it dawned on me that the most frustrating part right now is not about him or even necessarily the cancer itself at all, but about my physical inability to rise to meet the occasion, the limitations that post-polio sequelae put on my ability to care for him. Which does indeed frustrate the $#!% out of me.
And too that phrase encapsulates so much more about what's happening to us and our reactions to it. I find myself wistfully recalling times when we didn't know what we know now -- some times as recently as this spring, other times from the beginning of our relationship -- and wanting that innocence back. Not our youth or our health, even, just that sense that not only is today not threatened, but that there's always a tomorrow. I have even cracked to a high-school friend who asked if there was anything she could do, "Take me back to my childhood and leave me there." I don't want to be a responsible adult any more.
But I digress.
This morning what hit me first was the instructions on top of our dog's food storage container. I left them there for the pet sitter, in case of another medical emergency like the one we had two weeks ago, but they seemed this morning, at 6 a.m., to be a demand on me -- "Feed TWICE daily," the stickers shouted. And it's on me to do it because Mr. Wood's fatigue is so bad that he can't reliably be counted upon to be out of bed before noon, and the animals can't wait. (Sometimes he doesn't get up all day. When he got out of the hospital, he slept 28 hours straight!) So I have been, for quite some time now, getting up 20 minutes early every day to take care of the animals before I leave for work.
I took a photo of it this morning, my first for this project.
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