Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Face I Would Never See

Words fail me in capturing what I wish to say about the volumes spoken by this recent TIME magazine photograph of Congresswoman Giffords, taken eleven months after she was shot in the head at point blank range. Sparing you the perhaps futile effort to describe why or how, I'll just state that this is a face I thought I would never see. When I look at the photo and construct for myself what I see behind the eyes, I see what I would have not thought possible for this person prior to last year. It is not about "better or worse" or "wise or unwise." Closer to the mark involves the experience of suffering and mortality. Not surprisingly, Gabrielle and her husband Mark put forward a positive image of hope and courage, but it shows a certain honestly to allow television programs to broadcast the brutal, gut-wrenching photographs of her shortly after she was shot. The approval and publication of this photograph is also an act of communication, however conscious or intentional, and anyone interested in food for thought is invited to contrast this photograph with those of the Congresswoman prior to 2011. In the world that existed then, it is a face I would never see.


Blogger Liza said...

I think it is worth noting that if you didn't know Gabrielle Giffords and had never seen a picture of her except for this one, she looks like an average middle aged woman. It is only in comparison to her former self that the differences are striking. And the reasons for this may be mostly caused by some slight paralysis, vision loss, the surgery she had near her right eye, and/or weight loss. The spirit and the soul of the person behind the eyes may have survived intact, but for physical reasons the eyes and the face cannot express her.

Until I saw the videos of Gabrielle in her early days of recovery, the most disturbing picture I remember was the one where she was being carried on the stretcher in the Safeway parking lot. The photo is somehow tempered by the presence of Daniel Hernandez holding Gabrielle's hand despite the horrific brutality of the scene of the massacre. In the recovery videos, nothing is there to temper the brutality of Gabrielle's injuries. There is just a severely wounded person, a victim of extreme violence with a long and uncertain road to recovery ahead of her.

Eleven months later we can be grateful that Gabrielle lived because she said herself that she is glad to still be alive. I cannot think of anything else as important as that for those who care about her to take comfort in knowing. She is glad to be alive.

No one can turn back the hands of time and restore what was taken from all of those people who lost their lives or were injured in the massacre. No one can make them whole or give them back to their families. This was a tragic turn in the lives of so many people and so much was lost that is just simply gone forever.

We've been left with a lot to think about, and we haven't done that yet. I believe that Mark Kelly and Gabrielle are trying to help us with that.

I know that I haven't said anything that helps you, X4mr. That is the point, really. Loss seems easier to bear when you accept what it is and decide to bear it, forever. Loss is forever.

12/16/2011 1:55 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home