They smile at us through the tiny window of a paper photograph. An army of people we will never see again. Never touch again. Never hug again. Never laugh with again. Never worry about again. We will never hear their voices on the telephone. Or see them briefly as we dash through our own hectic dreary lives. We will not benefit from their wisdom or argue with them about the right thing to do. They sit there lined up on couches, arms around each other, smiling brightly at the photographer who cuts off their legs and leaves too much room above their heads. The light glints off of their glasses and they hold their pose. Forever. We think to ourselves always that we have not done enough to make their declining years more meaningful. We remember how they faced their own mortality with incredible courage and grace and we wonder whether we will measure up when our time comes. They who faced so many challenges in their lives from fighting Nazis to fighting boredom in the suburbs. Selling the old house that we had abandoned dozens of years ago and moving boldly to some new place where they would put out of their minds the next and last big event in their lives coming someday soon.
As each one passes on we think of a hundred questions we wanted to ask. We gather at their funerals to go through a timeless cultural dance we do not understand but nonetheless pursue with dogged determination. And then it is over. We go home. Look at our photographs and see one new face staring back at us.