A journey through grief with autism.

Alan Greenwell

3-Minute Read

My Tam

Bad start

Over my adult life I have pretty much had a camera all of the time. Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony all kinds of cameras. I have used them for my own personal interests and also for work. I have always enjoyed photography and having the wonderful time of watching Tam grow up and the love he had for his mammy was great subject matter.

When Bev died photography became horrible. I did not see the point. I got rid of my camera and everything photography related. I could not see the point at all.

Starting again

Over time as the hole in our lives got bigger and Tam was growing so fast I felt like I was letting Tam and myself down. I started taking photos of Tam again with my phone. I started to show Tam photos of him and Mammy. We did a photo wall together. None of this filled or reduced the size of the loss we had but it started to wrap around the darkness.

Tam started to take interest in more and more photos and also would ask me to explain the story of photos by pressing my throat with his fingers. He would sit quiet looking at the picture with me while I told him all about the day it was taken and what we were doing. It was and is precious time together.

So with a bit of pressure from friends I got a new camera. There is something about having a camera in my hand that is designed just for the purpose of taking photos. It does nothing else. It will not interupt you, in fact it will force you to slow down and contemplate what you are doing and what you are seeing. For me it is very theraputic.

While Tam was at school I would go out for a walk and take photos of people, landscapes, cityscapes, anything that caught my eye. It allowed me to slow down, quiet my brain and try to organise my thoughts. Plus Tam is great to photograph. As soon as I pick the camera up he says “cheese”.

Tam gets interested

Over time I started to take the camera everywhere. Tam was always willing to be in front of the lens and now he was starting to take interest in looking throught the lens. Over time I was getting Tam to take more and more photos. When we got home he would be straight on the computer and asking me to load the photos.

Photography - the process of catching light at a particular tiny snapshot of time and changing the context by removing everything from outside the frame.

This was turning into a double headed win. Tam being quiet and methodical while taking the photo and then having a peaceful time looking through photos together. Real quality time together.

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