I came across this:



“The Child”

She is bending over her child. She can’t leave her. The child is laid out in state on a stable. She wants to take one more photograph of the child, probably the last. In life, the child would never sit still for a photograph. She says to herself, “I’m going to get the camera,” as if saying to the child, “Don’t move.”



The short story reminded me of a picture of Amanda I have from the afternoon of the viewing. It is the only picture I have of her from that day. I feel certain someone asked me to take it. I find it impossible to think it could have been my idea. I want to say it was our mother who couldn’t be there, who asked me to take it, but truthfully I cannot recall. What I do remember is not being able to do it. I didn’t have trouble looking on her, though I didn’t particularly enjoy that either. But I specifically couldn’t hover a hand above her face, phone in hand, and try to capture that silence, that stillness.


I asked my uncle Jack to take the picture. The request caused him to break into a sob but he didn’t hesitate to do what I’d asked. I didn’t check the picture when he gave my phone back. Now I wonder if I asked him to also send it to whoever had requested it. Because I plain don’t remember doing anything with the picture. I do remember when I got back home I asked my fiancé to upload it to his computer’s hard drive, and then delete all traces of it in my phone and on Google Photos, which is where my media files are automatically backed up to. And actually, I haven’t seen the picture since. I don’t think I’ll ever delete it, though. And I doubt I’ll ever need to look at it. Since the moment the photo existed, I’ve always had it and never seen it. I don’t want to change that. I think it a common thing that many people who experience loss are averse to change as if unchanging-ness can bring back the dead. Don’t move.

From Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis
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