Wednesday, June 17, 2009

There Really Are No Words

We took a 7" rich dark chocolate cake down to Carmel Valley Tuesday for our young friend Ian who loves chocolate cake. We had the bakery write on it
For Ian
Mmmmmm Chocolate
But Ian didn't wake up when we arrived. He was sprawled out on the hospital bed in his childhood bedroom, deep deep deep into the journey he is taking, away from us. We sat at the dining room table with his mother and sister and talked for an hour or so. We didn't really talk specifically about Ian, although he was the undercurrent of everything we said. Then, shortly before we left, we talked about death. It's the conversation that none of us wants to have. We've all been born and we're all going to die, but we have amazingly figured out how never to mention it.
Ian is not doing well at all.

He is 34 years old and he has stage 4 melanoma.

In the past six months he has yielded much of himself to it.

Before we went to the house we stopped at Moss Landing to photograph otters and sea lions, white pelicans and harbor seals. The cake was in the cooler, while we walked along the jetties. We wanted to remind ourselves of everything else before we went and looked death in the face.

Ian will be roused from his slumber and hopefully be delighted by the deep rich chocolate that he loves. There will be no more recrimination for such appetites. He will be lovingly feted and sated. But at our table, we will remember that everywhere, everywhere lives are beginning and lives are ending. We do everything to hide it, but it is always and nonetheless true.

An explanation of the above photo: I photographed a photo of young Ian that hangs in the living room of the family home. His mother took that photo as a last shot on a roll of film. It was taken during a power outage using 1000 ASA film. The other photo Roger took of Ian while I was standing next to him with my hands on his shoulders. Both photos were taken two weeks ago today. I photoshopped them together.

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