I’ve been writing this in my head for some time now. Still, I’m not able to pick the words and yet have a need to write something. But the words can’t match the hollowness or even describe it. People have sent me many kind cards and a theme from these sweet messages of encouragement are “no words”. No words no words.
My nephew, Caleb Shoop, was killed on March 18th. He was hit by a truck while he was crossing in a crosswalk on his bike. He wasn’t wearing a helmet and, though his body physically lived for three days, he really died as soon as he was hit. The hell of being in the hospital and grabbing any shred of information that would indicate that things weren’t so grim as they appeared, seeing my brother trying to support his wife or watching my sister-in-law talk to her son is something I never hope to witness again. I wish that no one else would have to either.
No words. No words no words…
Caleb was just a good guy. He was kind, liked to laugh and was good to the people around him. He was the kind of guy who would enthusiastically “show up” for people. He let it be known to many that he wanted to be an organ donor. He would have been thrilled to know that he has improved people’s lives through his organs.
The depth of our grief is hard to face. And yet, as my brother pointed out, the only way through this is through it. So that is what we are doing, putting one foot in front of the other, trying not to be offended that life seems to be moving on when it feels like it shouldn’t.
It’s made me think about photography and what it means to me on a deeper level. I have long been in love with it for allowing me to savor life, reliving things that I want to hang on to. It had new depth of meaning to me when I lost my cousin Chet to cancer because it was a passion that we both shared and even communicated to each other with. Now, with the loss of Caleb, I am so thankful for the photos that I have of him, especially the ones I took of him for his Senior portraits. Not only are they great shots of him but they are a good reminder of a fun day spent with him and his girlfriend Bryn. When I take a photo that I know Chet would like, I feel connected to him. When look at photos of Caleb, I feel like he is with me again, laughing at something someone said or goofing around.
Photography is keeping me connected to myself and to those I’ve lost. I will be forever grateful to the seemly endless outlet and healing the art photography brings me.
Caleb Terrance Shoop
March 8th, 1995-March 21st, 2014