• August 30, 2013

    photo friday :: 5

    there have been millions of photos floating around the internet this week (as always, I suppose). and a good majority of them have featured an almost-naked teenage girl trying to prove she is an adult in a sad and misguided way. I’ve tried to stay away from those. but today I ran across a different kind of photo I’ve been trying to avoid. one I’ve had saved on my computer for a while – of a syrian father grieving the very recent death of his son. the image is visceral and painful. in many ways, it’s too much for me to bear. (which is why I’ve included it after the break. be warned that it is graphic and hard to look at. please know that I am not trying to be gratuitous in my inclusion.)


    I’ve had this photo saved on my desktop for quite a while now. when I first saw it back in november, I felt like I needed to keep it. it just didn’t seem like something I could look at once and move on from. but I didn’t know what to do with it. or even if I should do anything with it. so it just sat there for a little while. every few weeks I have to go through all the documents and folders that have cluttered up my desktop. and with each reorganization since I found this, I’ve forgotten what the picture was and had to enlarge it to remind myself. and every single time, I am blindsided.

    I am blindsided that such pain can be known. and is known, not just by syrian fathers, but by mothers who lose their newborn (or almost born) for no foreseeable purpose. and known by, really, anyone who experiences a loss so great. I have never and may never know pain like this. and if I’m being honest, I pray everyday that I won’t have to experience it. anne lamott writes that at one point or another, most of us will be called to “survive unsurvivable losses.” but I wonder – could just skip that part? it’s terribly selfish, but undeniably true.

    I am blindsided by the details that reveal honest-to-goodness life – not so unlike my own – now taken. the rolled-up cuffs on the boy’s jeans that I imagine his mother pinning up as he squirmed to get out the door that morning. the tear in the knee that just needs patching. the dirt under his fingernails. the shape of the father’s face in grief. which could be any father’s face. I do not see the “political climate” behind his pain. I do not see the competing ideologies or religions or cultures. I see a man. who has lost his son. who has likely seen the horrific and violent death of his son. who is grieving with an intensity that is unmatched. this is what connects me to what I may never fully understand. (please god, I don’t ever want to understand.) I am connected and I share in the loss. immediately and irrevocably and in a way that makes my bones shutter.

    and I am blindsided by a world that can contain so many images of miley cyrus next to images like this. it makes me mad in ways that I can’t even put into words right now. but even more, I am blindsided that the world can also contain beautiful images next to images like this. ribbons of light and fresh air next to enormous pain and loss. and while it is taking everything in me to find beauty in the midst of a picture like this, I am, at least, thankful for that. that even in humanity’s ability to affect horror, and deprivation, and barbarity, there is hope for us to affect beauty, and generosity, and kindness too. there are, at least, tiny slivers of hope in that.



    4 Responses

    1. andrea says:

      heartbreaking. but beautifully written, my friend. thank you. xo

      • carriehorton says:

        thanks friend. so glad to have people like you putting your honest thoughts into the world and inspiring me to do that same.

    2. Beth Mathews says:

      That image took my breath away and hit me straight in the heart. It also makes me so incredibly sad and mad so I will hold your words close! “I am blindsided that the world can also contain beautiful images next to images like this. ribbons of light and fresh air next to enormous pain and loss.” – I love that line.

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