We were on one of our escapes to Ojai in the Summer of 2014. I was there for my birthday and Father’s Day. Occasionally the two dates coincide as they did that year. Along with our usual routine, we visited L., a long time friend who happened to be staying at the Ojai Valley Inn for the weekend. The OVI is a lovely, old school hotel with beautifully kept grounds, a spa, and golf course. We were there on Monday, and the emotions of the weekend were still so close to the surface.
We took a walk with L to see the magnificent herb garden and passed by the first tee. There was something so tranquil about the scene. Shade on a hot day, the uncrowded golf course. The anticipation of the first drive to begin a memorable round. You can spend a lot of time waiting on a golf course, there are usually benches at every tee. Today, it didn’t look like anyone would be waiting for very long.
Golf was one of the things Jake and I did together for most of his life. After he died, I could barely look at a golf course without bursting into tears. It took me nearly a year before I could play again. I stopped to photograph this bench and cast a longing look back, remembering all the wonderful rounds we played together.
The day after we learned of Jake’s death, we went to Hillside to make arrangements for his funeral. It is a place no one goes to willingly. It was December 29th. Today is March 29th. Exactly 27 months after his passing. We were in shock, in some ways we still are, and will never recover fully. The deceptively innocuous appearance of the comfortable waiting area belies the agony of what you go to this place to do. Only the box of tissues on the table gives a hint. Somehow we managed to get through the ordeal of choosing the spot, next to his grandfather in the Garden of Rachel, and the details of the ‘ceremony’. Maybe that is a misnomer, but I can’t think of what else to call it. It’s freaking expensive, that little piece of ground. It even got us thinking about our own “final resting place” and we decided to buy the plot immediately next to him. Our family will be together once again, someday. Of course, that is not where Jake is, really. Jake is wherever we are, wherever his friends are, wherever the people who love him and remember him are.
Two days later, on New Year’s Eve day, we laid our beloved, beautiful boy to rest. RIP Jakey Jake.
This is in a little courtyard outside Jake’s apartment in Palm Springs. Not exactly a waiting area per se, I don’t remember seeing anyone waiting here, but we were waiting for Jake to join us. I liked the slight bleakness of the image slightly softened by the wall hanging. Not too much to say other than this was during our last trip to visit him. During our visits we usually took him shopping for groceries, out to lunch and dinner, and on this occasion for the haircut and some new shoes. He always loved new shoes. One of the very first sentences he ever spoke as a baby was “Lucky boy got new shoes at shoe store.” The last words I ever said to him, via text, were Shabbat Shalom.
We took Jake here for a new pair of gym shoes on December 16, after his haircut. He wanted to start working out, and the shoes I sent him via USPS got stolen from the front porch of where he was staying. Palm Springs I Love You? Not. Shopping with Jake was always an adventure. Not so much for shoes, but whenever he walked into a store, he had to look at nearly everything in the place. A trip to Home Depot was an hour minimum, even if we were only going for a package of screws, and forget about a trip to Frys. It was an all-day affair. He had impeccable taste in clothes, we both have a penchant for all things Italian, and could unerringly pick out the finest and most expensive suit, shirt, shoes, tie, watch, wallet, you name it. Runs in the family. This shopping trip was fairly uneventful, we managed to find some shoes for him, and a photo of a long empty line for me.
These are photos of the barber shop in which Jake got his last haircut – Monday, December 16, 2013. T and I were visiting him in Palm Springs. We took him for the haircut and dinner. It was the last time we visited. I snapped these pictures while I waited for him. You can see him through the window in the upper left and lower right photos getting one of the worst haircuts ever. I could never make up my mind which of the pictures I should select, so I am including all of them. We had a lovely visit. He was living in his own apartment with a roommate, had a job prospect lined up at a local restaurant, seemed like he was doing well. Less than two weeks later, we got the dreadful news of his passing.
I think I like the large one in the upper left. It has all the elements. Empty chairs, inside and out waiting places, someone waiting, Jake, and a slightly skewed perspective. Little did I know that this is one of the last photographs I would take of my son. I have taken thousands of them throughout his life, but none as poignant. We returned home the next day. I would speak with him during the ensuing weeks, would text, but I would never see him again.
Rite-Aid Pharmacy, San Juan Capistrano. August 2013
Two different stores. Two different cities. Two different dates. Same furniture. Rite Aid was Jake’s pharmacy of choice. He was staying in San Juan Capistrano in August, and moved to Palm Springs in September. I had the good fortune to accompany him in both locations for the med run. Not much else to say other than they were both clean, well-lit, gave you an opportunity to check your blood pressure while waiting, and both very un-crowded. By this time of the year, between all our family members, we had exceeded our out of pocket expense limit, so the meds were free for several months. Thanks Blue Shield, we got our money’s worth that year.
Cedars Sinai Emergency Room, Los Angeles. July 2013
Cedars Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles. August 2013
Cedars Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles. July 2013
Cedars Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles. July 2013
Late in July, while we were having lunch, Jake complained about pain in his legs and back. It became so severe we ended up in the emergency room late that afternoon and into the evening. Once he was seen, tests proved inconclusive, and in the interest of caution, they admitted him to the hospital pending more tests by the neurosurgeon. After a couple of days, they couldn’t find anything specifically wrong with him other than his chronic disk issues, and discharged him. But during his brief sojourn we had ample time to explore the vast and varied waiting areas in the hospital. The top three are of the emergency room proper and an adjoining area. The bottom two are late the next night as we were leaving the hospital. The photograph at the bottom right pretty much sums up the entire hospital waiting experience. A long lonely dimly lit corridor stretching into the distance, a solitary figure hunched over his phone waiting for …
I was going through the photos and came across this one I had forgotten about. It actually pre-dates the entire Project by almost a year. I had just acquired the Hipstamatic application and was playing around with it while we waited for Jake to have one of the very first evaluations of his back issues. This is with one of the double exposure ‘paks’ the original Hipstamatic offered in addition to the basic kit – the Salvador lens and Dream Canvas film. It was a one-off, in that I didn’t really pursue the idea of “waiting” nor did I start to photograph the spaces in earnest until the following year. Kinda of like asking what was the universe like before the big bang. Well, here is a glimpse. So you could say the seeds for the Project were planted on this day, but would lie dormant for 9 months only to burst into bloom the following spring. Poetic, huh?
This is the waiting room of the doctor who Jake was seeing, down the hall from the previous post. Aside from my new-found preoccupation with waiting rooms, the absolute symmetry of this room demanded a photo. Since I was the only one in the room, I had the luxury of taking several pictures until I achieved the perfect framing. The room was brightly lit and the chairs were uncomfortable. I guess this doctor had better time management so his patients wouldn’t have to wait too long. Good thing. They were so uncomfortable, I got up and wandered the halls discovering the photo in the previous post. They could go as a set, I suppose.
Waiting with children poses unique challenges. As a rule, they don’t really want to wait for anything; their mantra is usually ‘now’. Most certainly they don’t want to wait for the doctor who may poke them and prod them, put a flat piece of wood in their mouths and make them say “aaahh”, or even worse, stick them with a sharp needle. This well-mannered office provides a child-sized table with some reading material and some games to keep the kiddies occupied. While Jake was in with a new doctor in the office down the hall, I kept myself busy checking out all the other offices in the building. This one was right next door, and seemed worthy of a photo.