I picked up the obituary section off the floor this morning, vacuuming before breakfast. Some of the pictures were from final years and some clearly represented how family hoped their loved ones would be remembered – when they were younger and the future had not yet been determined. Women with hair that had been carefully rolled in hot rollers, chin length, and wearing silk blouses with rounded collars, sometimes pearls. Men handsome with sports coats and narrow ties posed to the meet the expectations on their generation. Memorialized in the paper to be remembered as they were before their lives got messy, before the weight of past choices limited those of the future.
I wondered what the deceased had been thinking at the time their picture was taken. Surely not that it was this portrait that would be the turning point to their death. Life before that moment not long enough to represent life’s entirety. Life beyond tethered to the portrait which would one day represent its whole.
I wondered if they would have agreed to the likeness if someone had told them, “This is your moment to be who you have become, who you will become, and how you will be remembered.” I wondered if, had they known they were posing for their turning point, they would have resisted and become someone different.