My Dad died slowly. When he was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer in 2004 he was given two years to live. Because nothing in life is predictable, he survived for six; sometimes on chemo, sometimes without; sometimes feeling great, sometimes feeling not so well. But it all was with the intention of living the best life he could, spending time with family and friends and demonstrating how to hold oneself with grace and dignity, and a quirky sense of humor.
In March 2010, things got to a point where there were no further medical interventions that could keep the cancer at bay, and my Dad was enrolled in home hospice. As I live about three hours away from my family, I made the journey up Route 81 every other week while my Dad was in hospice care. I am forever grateful for that time spent with him, having been present for his last steak dinner at a restaurant, his final birthday, his final father’s day, and eventually on August 21, 2010, the moment of his death. I would not take those miles back for anything.
As you can imagine this was a very emotional time for me, and those three hour drives were often filled with tears. On the way up Route 83, someone had spray painted, in fading black, the words “IT CAN GET BETTER” on an overpass. Though they were not written for me or by anyone I knew, there was an intangible comfort seeing those words every two weeks. The simple and powerful message made me take a deep breath and exhale knowing I would be okay. Someday.
I have often thought about who wrote those words and what the intention was behind them. Who wrote this message? Surely it was more than someone writing their name on a wall or marking territory? What was the story behind those words that compelled the writer to touch their own soul and share it with the world?
This is the inspiration for the project “Emotional Graffiti”. I have taken snapshots of words impulsively written that catch people in a moment of feeling a wide range of emotions: vulnerability, fear, anger, calm, and humor. Though there are many means of self-expression that don’t involve writing on other’s property, graffiti is an ever present means of communicating simple human emotions and creates a connection for the writer to the readers unknown.
Each of these pictures is of words or images that caught my attention for one reason or another. Each made me feel something. Each has a story behind it that I will never know.