She was gone. And he was walking alone. Her camera in his hand, taking pictures of what life was meant to look like
if she were near his side.
Two weeks gone now, and he was wandering the canyons of Utah. Alone.
You wouldn’t know on the outside.
He smiled and chatted briefly about the coldness of his feet. “Maybe someday, I’ll come back and wear what I need to make it up the Narrows
… maybe someday.”
Obvious, was the Nikon camera he guarded as he forged through the icy water. We asked him if he wanted a picture of himself in this adventure, framed in all of Zion’s beauty. You’d have thought we had handed him a rare and costly treasure. As Chris started the photographer talk of of cameras and lenses, millimeters and apertures, his face washed red with a clouded uncertainty… He didn’t know what lens he had. He didn’t know his camera’s ins and outs. He didn’t even know the name of the weight that draped heavy around his neck. With a hesitant voice, he offered, “I’m sorry. I don’t really know a lot. The camera is, was my wi… um…I inherited it.”
Carefully he looked into the lens with a faraway smile, and the shot was taken. And another for good measure. Then his words began to tumble into the river at our feet. He apologized that he was going to cry. He’d lost his wife two weeks ago. A two year battle of cancer. His boss had said, “Go. Take as much time as you need.” He went. With his wife’s camera, and a dream, and a new life that didn’t fit right.
Wouldn’t ever fit the same way again.
He said he’d be okay. He said times like this he’d fill up and then overflow, and he’d go sit on back over on the beach right there, and just cry and let it out. He said how thankful he was for the picture.
We said how we would pray for him in this hard time,
in this new life
and how we were praying even now.
Then, he thanked us and hugged us and we left him alone
… with a picture,
a raw new memory,
and the deep ache of Want.
Looking back, as we headed up the river,
I saw him build an altar.
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