My cat recently got diagnosed with a tumor on his spine. This has got me thinking of the mortality of my favorite cat and the result is the realization that over the last few years I haven’t really been taking pictures of him much, and even worse I don’t think I have many, if any, pictures with him and I together. This has made me even more sad than the fact that I will not be able to enjoy his presence much longer. Now I am faced with the loss of even the memory of him.
There are some religions that believe that taking a picture can capture the soul. I have a hard time believing this to be true.
I have a picture of my grandparents in my room where they are of a younger age. I look at it, and sometimes remember them when they were alive. But it doesn’t really capture their essence. In fact, the faces I see aren’t even the faces I remember. Yes I can see the resemblance but that is it.
The picture more than anything makes me stop and consider who my grandparents actually were. I know they aren’t who I knew them to be. Surely they were, in part my grandparents as I remember, but that was just one small portion of their being. I have no idea what they were like before they had grand kids, or even what they were like before they had kids. I don’t know many of the beliefs or philosophies they had on very basic ideas in life. And this picture that I look to for remembrance doesn’t offer a piece of who they were, it does not give me a glimpse at their inner being. It just shows me a picture of their shell.
True too with my cat.
I take pictures of him while he plays and snuggles and just looks cute rolled over on the floor, but it doesn’t tell me who he is. A picture cannot show me how he paws on my arms while getting his belly scratched. It does not allow me to hear the rumble that comes out of him when he is happy. It cannot truly display how or why he chased after one of the other female cats, sure I could take a picture of the act, but it doesn’t give me the start or the finishes, or the female cat’s cranky rejections to the attention. Pictures don’t tell me where a favorite spot to lay or bask might be, they just tell me where he was when the picture was took. They don’t show me how he followed us around the house, laying near us just to be near us. They don’t show us that even though he loved us and loved to be around us, he didn’t always want to be pet or even touched, he just liked to be there. A picture doesn’t show the love and attention that he gave to the younger cat, who he was more of a mother for than a father. It doesn’t help me know that when he would climb in the garbage, or lay on my chest for hours at a time because he was sick. Or that he would stick his face in just about anything and end up with a face full of dust or a burnt off whisker. Or that when he was looking for my roommate in the house, he would give out a big meow that I swear to god sounded as if he cried out her name.
For these many examples and more, I need to rely on my memory. My memory which fails me on more than an hourly basis. Yet these are the things that actually capture his soul in my mind. It is these actions, thoughts and behaviors that truly capture who he is, not some random picture, I can’t even imagine truly capturing these on video. The picture is great, I treasure the pictures that I have of the people and animals that I loved the most. But I don’t think they capture who they were. They don’t capture their innermost desires. I am sure I will see them all as I pass to the next realm myself. But in the meantime, I feel the need to take a few more pictures in hopes of capturing as much of their souls as I possibly can.