17 April 2020. 11 pm. I come to the kitchen to grab my phone and glance at the screen. My sister is calling, the sound is disabled not to wake my husband. I pick up, feeling in my guts that something is wrong.
“Grandmother has died”…
Next day were calls from relatives, friends. The people I haven’t spoken for a while. Did I want to pick up? But I understood the social protocol. I knew I had to talk to people. I knew I had to call my uncle who had been living and taking care of her for all these years.
What do I say when I call? What do I say when people sigh and tell “I am so sorry”? “thanks”- all I came up with, “me too”…
I started to write down the memories I have about her but it made me miss her even more, and grief would not go away. I needed something else to express that pain and start my healing process. It took me some time to start taking pictures. And I realized that no matter what language we speak, pictures express feelings much better than words. Camera gave me a tool to say “I am sorry” without saying it out loud. It let me describe the way I feel.
I believe we all have our own healing process and my way may not resonate with you. But if you share the emotions in my story, I don’t feel alone. If this story helps you to feel supported in that miserable journey most of us have to take despite our fear for it, I feel grateful.
I did not want this project to be about my grandmother. To meet her and to know her, you need more than pictures. As any unique personality, she cannot be fully described: her stories, her care, her strength to pull herself up and start walking, her strictness, pedantical approach to everything from quality of her client’s dress to the stitches on my 5th grade home work for home economics- the subject nobody cares about…
I did this project about my emotions; losing her changed the world I knew forever. I lost my moral compass, the person I wanted to impress, the person I feared when I was growing up, the person I came to understand when I has grown and the person, whom I am happy to resemble in many aspects.
This project is about this crave for loneliness, slow recovery, shame that time erases details in memory and nostalgia over all of the memories connected with the loss. This is an attempt to express in pictures what is hard to express in words. The feeling of being lost and feeling of adjustment.