All the photographs I have of my father are not enough. The photos are all imperfect. The images on paper or my mind are not him, but a link to him. They resemble him but are in ways reminders that his presence is not here, just as his presence isn’t really in the photos, just as the photos are not real. They have their use, photographs, and I love their construction, the camera, the image, the print, the success of capturing what you see or saw, or what you were. But they also tell me always that the moment is captured and gone.
I talk to my father’s photos now, one in particular in the hallway. I stop before it in the evenings, look into his eyes and say out loud that I love him, or I’m doing my best, or I miss him. What have I made him in my mind? A piece of paper with the memory of his face imprinted on it, that can hear me as if he is in the same room as me, as if he is going to respond. Or perhaps I do so to have that exchange again, to hear my voice speaking to him, saying “Dad” to him again. Although one-sided, it is comforting.