On the importance of photos and losing your little brother…

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I very seldom write about my personal life as I am a very private person. Today is different. Todays’ blog is as much about remembering my little brother “Bobo” as it is about photographs and photography.

My mind has been far away from photography for quite a while. That spark of creativity was missing. I wanted to go out but could not motivate myself and I did not know why.

I think that I now know.

A year and a half ago one of my brothers was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. It was just a few days before Christmas that we got the news. Dave insisted that nothing change and that we continue with the family celebration as usual. At stage four with lung cancer the outlook for living past a few weeks is not great.

Dave lived to spend another Christmas with us. He was a miracle. He was defying all the odds of surviving his illness. He was a machine at home painting the house, pruning trees, doing everything that he could think of so that when he passed it might be just a little easier for his wife.

Dave never asked for help but last fall I got a phone call from him and he said, “Dan, can you come over and help me with this tree. I just don’t have the energy to finish it.”

I was over in a matter of minutes to see the bed of his half ton truck almost full of branches as thick as your thighs. He had one more large branch to finish and couldn’t muster the strength. I worked for an hour getting the last branch down and loaded and I was beat. I offered to haul the load to the disposal but he refused me saying that it was easy to do and don’t bother.

That was my little brother. Never complaining. Never asking why me? It was only in his final months that I found out from his wife that he had days where he cried in pain and wrapped his head in pain as he also had a brain tumour, a few in fact.

Dave died a couple of weeks ago in his bed. He got up in the middle of the night, fell down and was helped back to his bed. A few hours later his wife awoke next to him to find him cold and not breathing.

That was Dave. It was never about him.

Dave didn’t want a funeral. He didn’t want people being sad about his passing. He insisted that there be a celebration of his life where friends and family could share funny stories about him.

Part of the celebration was a slide show of Dave’s life.

Our father died when my brothers and sisters were very young but before he died he shot thousands of black and white and color images of us and our lives.  When my mother passed a few years ago I inherited boxes of black and white negatives, prints and transparencies.

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Dave’s first birthday.

In all of those years that I had them I never looked at them. But I did last week and the first picture that I pulled out of a slide carousel was of just Dave and I and I cried. And I cried and I cried some more. We were so happy then. We were so young with beaming smiles and our lives ahead of us. I was transported instantly to that moment and I missed him so bad. God how I still miss my little brother.

The more photos that I went through the more the memories came flooding back. This goes back to the late fifties. It was like being transported in a time machine. The clothes, the houses and cars and even how the people dressed and did their hair was different but it all came back.

And then it came to me about the importance of photos in our lives. They are more than just pretty or something to make a few dollars from. They are reminders of experiences never to be lost. Never to be forgotten.

I love you little brother and I miss you too.

Dan

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~ by Dan Jurak on June 4, 2016.

21 Responses to “On the importance of photos and losing your little brother…”

  1. I once read that siblings teach us about friendship and gift us with lifelong memories…somewhat similar to photos, especially family photos. Thank you for sharing these memories of your brother…it is my belief that as your writing touched my soul it also validated his life…your lives.

  2. Thank you Brenda. We are all on a journey which we don’t or can’t grasp the meaning of. Somewhere there is a greater meaning to who we are and what we do.

    Thank you again,
    Dan

  3. Thank you for sharing. It is a good reminder, and maybe even a wake up call for me, that life and family are precious, and that moments with family and life itself, must not be wasted. I feel for you. Losing someone that close is very difficult, but your brother was right. Do not mourn his passing, but celebrate his life and the moments you had together.

  4. Dan I am very sorry to hear of your brothers passing. As you are aware there is nothing that can be said to ease your pain – my heart goes out to you and your family

    As we deal with the parts of life most feel pass like other days – there are some that make there way right to our core. These past 8 years I have lost a mother – son – father and brother- all loved – all missed

    They have all added to who I am and made me a better person and this is ongoing to this day

    I hope the day arrives very soon when thoughts of Dave brings a smile and warmth to your saddened heart

  5. Wow, so poignant. Thank you for sharing these memories that touch the heart-I just moved and threw away old letters photos from the past from many years, but did hang on to the ones of my parents and my brother and me and close friends, some who have died-I am glad for that because they are precious. Your brother was such a brave man-there will always be memories that stay but know you miss him terribly , so it is good to honour him and write about him.

  6. Dan, it is good to hear from you again, even with sad news, because your love comes through and all of us who love can understand you. The older I get and the more people I lose… well, I shouldn’t say lose, because I feel they are not lost. I see them in dreams and sometimes, just for a moment, I think I see them on the street. In so many ways they still seem ever so alive.
    Blessings on you and your family, it has always been clear how much they mean to you, from the way you have written about them over the years.
    – Marke

  7. I’m so sorry for your loss, and yet thankful that in the midst of your grief you can share your observation about the important connection between our photos and our memories. As photographers it’s easy to distance ourselves from the emotional response and get lost instead in an artistic critique of our work. I recently lost a beloved dog very suddenly: Here one day, gone the next. And while I have thousands upon thousands of photos of him, I don’t own a single photo of the two of us together. Someone once told me that I needed to get out from behind my camera and get a few pictures of us together. I poo-pooed that advice and now it’s my deepest regret. Yes, it’s great to take pictures of our loved ones, but every now and then we need to put the camera down and be in the picture with them. May your family photos and happy memories be a comfort to you during this very sad time.

  8. I am so sorry, but keep in your heart.

  9. Thank you Bruce.

  10. Thankyou Rontuaru. It seems that it takes the loss of someone or something to make us realize how important it was to us.

  11. Marke, loss is inevitable isn’t it. Both parents for me, now a brother, friends, relatives. It always hurts and it always heals.

    Thank you for your thoughts,
    Dan

  12. Thank you Jane.

    Like you with the old letters, I never realized how precious thoseold photos were until now.

    Thank you for your thoughts,
    Dan

  13. Thank you Ray. So sorry for all of your losses but that is a part of living isn’t it? We are here for a short time then we are not.

    Thank you for your thoughts,
    Dan

  14. JB, you are welcome. It is easy to get caught up in the moment and not realize all that is going on around us.

    My brother would appreciate your sentiments.

    Dan

  15. Heart wrenching post, I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and know you bring so much joy to others through your images as well. I hope you find inspiration to seek and create again. All the best to you and your family. Eric

  16. Thank you Eric. I think that part of growth is experiencing loss and coping with it. We are all growing.

    Dan

  17. Beuty.
    This is life – it is his proof to us
    Yours sincerely

  18. This is a heart touching post, I hope someday your memories will not be overshadowed by the pain you must feel. I wish you all the best and many many good memories with the photos. Keep your head up!!!

  19. Hi Christian, thank you for your warm thoughts.

    Dan

  20. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story. Your writing is as moving as your photography.

  21. Thank you Offshoots12.
    Dan

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