Beating on is a tribute to Life and to Love.
I have met some wonderful people through photography. Trudy is one of them. I’ve known her for almost 3 years now and she has become a very dear friend. Maybe it started with the realisation that whatever we tell each other, we know a well thought-out compassionate answer will follow – when she speaks, I listen, intently. She is all kinds of special.
I’ve photographed her a couple of times as she has this funny habit of getting featured in newspapers and magazines. She also was part of the wise monkeys project and she sent her son James my way that day too. She regularly attempted to organise a big family session with her kids, her mother and sisters but something – like people living in different provinces – always got in the way. Last week, we made it happen. I finally got to put faces to all the names and the stories – in particular Anna, her daughter, and Lesley, Jame’s girlfriend. We had a lot of fun – a LOT of fun! And that is just one more thing that makes this family special.
Because you see, almost 8 months ago, they suffered the greatest of losses. That’s quite the euphemism. No day goes by without pain or sorrow. But there’s also the will to be in the moment rather than dwelling on what they have lost. Trudy wrote me just yesterday about her determination to “honour Jame’s amazing love of life and the love of those in his life by really living each moment and appreciating what I have now as I truly understand that it is fleeting and may be gone in a second”. And so there are new beginnings worth celebrating. Anna is going back to university, Lesley is moving to Japan to teach for a year. Trudy wanted to give the girls something special – a memento of this time, right now, before life takes them on new adventures. Photographs of the women they are today.
Lesley recently got a beautifully symbolic tattoo. It depicts a flying hummingbird and underneath are the words “so we beat on” (there’s a photograph at the bottom). She didn’t say anything about it except “I just had it done” but I recalled Trudy telling me once that the last line of The Great Gatsby, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”, was James’s favorite quote and I nearly cried when I saw it. Because I realised this:
He will always be with her, he’s part of the fabric of her – and she also spreads her wings and soars. She won’t be held back. All the women in this family carry his love and theirs with them forever – they also choose to live the best life they can. For Love.