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Delete This Image?

November 22nd, 2004 · No Comments

Especially after Abigail’s interruptions to our romantic interlude the other night, I’ve been thinking about pictures that I would want to be deleted if I died. During the holiday season, I also think about my brother, who passed away five years ago this December, and the pile of photographs I have of him.

In the past, those who have left this world have often left behind stacks of pictures, printed images for the grieving to sort, evaluate and save. In my closet I have stacks of pictures of my brother: framed, unframed, enlargements and indexed drugstore envelopes of 4x6s. Already we have boxes of photos from our family adventures stored on shelves, beginning with our wedding.

Now though many of our family photographs are taken with our digital camera. In the past year or two we have forsaken film except for occasional moments. We don’t yet have a proper printer, so most of the images exist only on the computer. They take up memory rather than space on a shelf and fit into files on a server rather than a stack of boxes in the closet.

If something happened to me, instead of sorting through piles of photos, all Ted would have to do was make a disk. If he wanted to, he could delete all the pictures of me. It could be easy to do. If I died, I do hope Ted would get married again, and having digital images of me instead of racks of paper ones might make the transition easier for everyone.

Perhaps this sounds morbid, but it is the time of year when we remember my brother and think about whom we have lost in our lives as well as what might happen as years pass. It was a strange thought to realize that Ted could delete all the images of me or put my pictures on a disk. Then all that would be left behind in pictures from me could fit on a thin square, and be tossed into a drawer.

Then again, I rarely look at the photographs of my brother. I have a couple framed ones on display around the house, from the times we were kids together: the four of us standing in our driveway, holding gifts at Christmas, stark in black and white. But the pictures in my mind are more powerful than any a camera could capture. I don’t even have colors or shapes for some of the memories; they are more emotion than precision.

And these images are the ones I will never delete.

Tags: journal

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