The Mizzou Alumni Magazine contacted me in January about running one of my photos from the inauguration and doing a short Q&A. I enjoyed the questions they sent and it got me digging through my photo archives from high school for some old shots, like the one below. You can read all my deepest thoughts and see some more photos online here.
Although he has been in my sister’s and then my parents’ care for the last five years, my leopard gecko Ardie died today. He lost sight in both eyes years ago and hasn’t been able to feed himself for a long time. In the last month he went downhill quickly and lost about half his body weight. When my mother took him to the vet recently, his charts indicated DOB as 1994. 18 years. I thought he was only 14. Which means he lived a longer life than I even realized. RIP little guy.
This photo is from probably one of my earliest “studio” shoots ever, from 2002, for which I used a lamp, some leaves and a big white piece of cardboard. I’d guess it was taken in the fall…
I can hear your laugh. I’m sure it is the first thing most people imagine when they think of you, that genuine, all-knowing chuckle. You’ve lived more life already than your years would suggest and you’ve made countless friends along the way. I don’t even recognize the names of these people who signed your cards, all sending you their love. Now here I am and I don’t even know where to start, what to say… I mean, you might still wake up and read this some day. At least that’s the scenario I choose to envision.
The person lying on this bed in front of me, dressed in only a thin gown, his labored breaths punctuated by blips and beeps from the monitors — I can’t connect that to the animated person with whom I’ve shared so many adventures. I think we’ve been yelled at by the cops at least a half-dozen times and now you won’t even squeeze my hand. I know we haven’t been as close the last few years, and I know there are no hard feelings. That’s just how it goes sometimes. But I can’t imagine losing the other half of all the memories we’ve made; I’m going to have to do the remembering for both of us now.
Your mom explains that they have detected swelling on your brain and are increasing your sedation. The news hits me like another punch in the gut. Is there even any use asking “why” to all this? No conclusive explanation or profound reasoning will make any of this easier. We’ll probably never know if the batteries were dead or if you tried to move or if the fire just spread too quickly. There seem to be so many variables that could have changed this outcome but I try to kick the “what if” thoughts from my mind; I know that path just leads to unresolved dead ends and more frustration. So all we have left to do is wait. Wait and hope. And pray, in whatever form we do. These thoughts are my prayer, my most sincere wish that you will come out to play shuffleboard again, or go night swimming. Or just laugh…
Your dad hugged me and thanked me for coming to visit. Of course, I say. And I mean it. I follow the signs in the ICU back toward the elevator. As the doors close, I think to myself: I should thank him. Thank him for bringing such a wonderful person into my life in the first place. Without such supportive parents, I’d never have any of those memories at all. I’ll tell him another time, I promise myself, because I know there will be many more visits to come.
Keep fighting, Leon
Leon wading in the moonlight at Hidden Beach in Minneapolis, July, 2009. Right before the police showed up…
I went with Emily Carroll to Macy’s “Sring is in the Air” flower show in downtown Minneapolis. Although I was very impressed by the colors and arrangements, I happened to think that all the flowers we were seeing would be pretty much dead in a week. As a tribute to the soon-to-be-ugly plants, I photographed one stemmed jewel who fell a bit earlier than the others. Whether it was from fatigue, sickness, improper care or a careless foot, this flower’s sad fate is an ominous reminder to its proud peers nearby: your time will come.