destroyed photographs

“In twenty minutes I lost what I had been building for forty years. It happened while I was at work. My mother tried to turn on the stove and it caught fire. I lost everything. All my possessions and photographs were destroyed. Everything seemed hopeless. I didn’t sleep for many nights after it happened. But so many people came to help me. My friends let me live with them for months. My neighbors helped me clean the site and we began to rebuild. People were giving me extra materials. Twenty-five volunteers showed up from the local construction union. The experience changed me. I see people differently now. I thought that the world was full of people asking for things that they didn’t need. So I just focused on taking care of myself. As soon as my house is finished, I’m doing whatever I can to help people.”

(Montevideo, Uruguay)

hospital in Pripyat … 03-2015

If, every day, I dare to remember that I am here on loan, that this house, this hillside, these minutes, are all leased to me, not given, I will never despair. Despair is for those who expect to live forever. I no longer do. 

—Erica Jong