I don’t know when it happened. I don’t know why it happened. But it did.
For 5 months my spirit lingered in a darker place. I couldn’t seem to get truly excited or happy about anything. I could force myself to attend events and smile and nod but that’s all I could give. Photography however, quickly became my safe place …a meditation of sorts where my brain escaped and only focused on one thing, being in the present. I took my camera everywhere so that no one could see that my demeanor had shifted, but it was terribly obvious to those close to me no matter what I was using as a shield. I wasn’t thinking about it on a daily basis, but my father’s death was inevitably ever present.
Then, it happened.
Last month something lifted… I started feeling internal sunshine again. I didn’t even really notice it at first but then two weekends ago I was happy, all day, and all night. I felt like me again, my default setting of being genuinely excited about life and experiences and friendships and wanting to try new things had made some sort of miraculous come back. It hasn’t stopped from then till now, in fact I can feel the change radiating outward, slowly reaching my friends and family, sending them the warning flairs that “cat’s having fun.”
And then today I went a step further because I knew that finally I could handle it, I was no longer numb. I opened the box of cards and flower notes that came to me the week my father left us. I can’t believe the things that people sent and some of the people themselves who reached out that I hadn’t talked to in a long time. My Ragnar Relay team, another photographer I had recently met, my boyfriend’s “Rat Pack” friends and wives… there was notes from all of them! It made me tear up at how thoughtful and selfless people truly are.
And I couldn’t stop there, I started going through pictures and memories and letting everything float back into my conscious self. It was incredible remembering just how much my father meant to not just me, but everyone. And then I saw my memorial speech, the words practically smacked me in the face. I had talked about things he had taught me that made me who I am… cars, current news, science fiction and the big one…comic books. He LOVED comic books, I mean like garage full of them, scoffs at movies that get them wrong, knows all the superheros secret identities (all of them) kind of loved. And he gave me my first comic book, Fathom.
Yes she was the traditional scantily clad and sometimes not clad at all comic book chick but she became my first outlet for art. The whole story was about a surfer chick who ended up being part of an undersea world/war, not the best writing there. But the graphic artist for this particular comic was detailed and used light in his artwork. Reflections, the darkness of water, the light refraction of an ocean surface. For me, that was the cat’s meow and I started drawing trying to emulate his work. I was mediocre at best. But it parlayed into photography, the fascination I have with cameras is the ability to play with light. Bend it, mold it, strengthen it, snub it out. And there it is… my father’s love had a direct influence on what I now love and can’t live without.
So this summer I begin my first truly personal project in his honor. “The Everyday Superhero”. This will be a collection of pieces that feature real fathers and their real children. Dads will dress up as any superhero he feels a connection to and will do everyday activities their kids. Cooking breakfast, playing catch, watching tv, helping with a school project, walking the dog, ect. My hope is to make a connection showing that this is what superheros are like everyday, among us, helping shape us, being the positive power in our lives.
So I’m reaching out to friends and clients and anyone else who may be willing to help me with this project. It’s a call to great fathers and the children they love to hopefully make this a reality.