Perhaps better than anyone, photographers understand that once a moment passes, it is gone forever. Just as no two physical objects are ever exactly alike, no two moments in time are ever perfect replicas of one another. Every moment is unique and can never be duplicated. So while I’ve never been a fisherman, I know what it means to lament “the one that got away”. Like everyone else, I possess images that were (or would have been) “defining moments” for me as a photographer. But they exist only in my memory – they were never captured on film or memory card and they will likely never come again. They linger in my mind as reminders of what might have been. They are the ghosts of unpreparedness, bad luck, and the naive notion that there is always tomorrow.
Life, I have learned yet again, is no different. Assuming that today will be no different than yesterday and that tomorrow will unfold with no surprises is, to put it mildly, a really bad idea.
My mother is 90 years old (and will soon be 91). My father died some 29 years ago, so she’s been pretty much on her own ever since. Up until about 2 weeks ago, she was still driving. In my mind, that wasn’t a particularly good idea, but I was always out-voted. Generally speaking, her health has been very good. Her diet was good and she religiously avoided doctors (a practice that is sometimes far “healthier” than getting regular checkups, in my opinion). Her short term memory was failing, but hell, so is mine.
Anyway, she fell and broke her hip. In an instant, everything changed. For me, my 2 brothers and sister, and most importantly, for her. First, there was the surgery to repair the hip (including a metal pin). Following that, the rehab to get her on her feet again. That will last at least 2 months – perhaps longer (she fell again in the rehab facility and reinjured the hip).
But I don’t think it’s the physical injury (as bad as it is) that’s the problem. The problem is the effect the whole experience has had on her mental well being. In a word, she’s losing ground. And quickly. She always said that she would never allow herself to be “institutionalized”. I always figured she’d live to be 100 or so, go to sleep one night in her own bed and never wake up. I fear we were both wrong. One of those defining moments has changed it all.
I guess there’s something to be said for “living in the moment”. And if you happen to be a photographer, keep that damn camera close. Because when the moment is gone, it’s gone.