Cara asked me to write about comfort, and I had a lot of ideas for the
topic. However, as of my writing this, it has been four days since we
have seen our family’s much-loved cat, George, who has brought us so
much comfort over the years and taught us about it too, so I am
dedicating this post to him. There have been a lot of tears. We are
worried about him but holding on to hope. We have heard stories of
cats coming home weeks later, and this could happen to us, but we are
aware things might not go so well.
Fred and George, who are litter-mates, have lived with us since they
were kittens, nearly ten years ago. We joked that we “hired” them for
their mousing abilities, but of course they have been beloved pets.
George was the mellower of the two. My young daughter had difficulty
being gentle with our cats, and George gracefully submitted to her
petting that sometimes seemed a little more like pushing, hugs that
seemed more like squeezing and trapping, and despite the discomfort
she might have caused him, George followed her around, sat on her lap,
and slept on her bed at night. The two of them have always had a
special bond, even though now, at 13, she has no trouble being gentle
with him. He still sleeps in her room often, keeping her cozy and
I know he is “only a cat,” but while George is missing, we are
reminded that we can’t take our loved ones, pets or humans, for
granted. His brother, Fred, is the classic annoying in/out,
wake-up-I’m-hungry sort of cat, and we are all feeling a lot more
tolerance for him right now. We are going through old photos of George
and are noticing all the photos we ought to have but never took, too.
How sad that there aren’t photos of each of us with George, and of our
whole family with him, or of all us with all of our pets (which also
include my older daughter’s pet rats, Hazel & Ivy). You can be sure
that at least for a while there will be more photos of loved ones
being taken in this home, together with the ones they love and the
things they love.
It’s a reminder, as a photographer, that sometimes photography isn’t
just about the quest for the perfect moment or the perfect light.
Sometimes it really is about recording memories. It’s a reminder,
too, to hold onto the photos that I take of my family and loved ones
that I may not feel are worth sharing on Flickr, but still may hold
Because George and Fred are black, they are difficult to photograph.
My camera’s meter tends to overexpose them. Even when I get the
exposure right, showing detail in a mass of black fur is tricky.
Focusing on them if an open eye isn’t available is tricky too. Usually
by the time I’ve figured out the exposure and focus, the moment is
lost. So I have a lot of photos of them on my hard drive that are
exposed badly or composed badly because I took them in a rush just to
make sure I got something, even if it wasn’t great. It’s a little
frustrating, because really, if you want to find the light in your
home, follow a cat. I have a lot of blurry, badly exposed, and badly
composed photos of Fred and George and beautiful light. I am
appreciating those photos today and wishing I had more.
This is one of the most recent imperfect photos I have of George,
sunning himself in our dining room window, one of his favorite places
to be. I am so grateful right now to have this photo, flaws and all.
You can find more of Deirdre’s wonderful photography on her flickr stream.