Each time I'd point to one of the three framed photographs of my dad, my nephew, Caleb — barely a month old when Dad died — would say "Papa." Yes, this one little, high-pitched word beat some of the most humbling and memorable comments I've ever heard:
"Your dad was lucky to have a daughter like you."
"Thank you for doing something meaningful."
"These photos make me want to go call my dad right now."
I guess Caleb's reaction reminded me that even though he'd only had a month with Dad, he loved him and would one day know his story with the help of these photos.
I also realized displaying this collection of such deeply personal photos was a huge step in the grieving process. Overnight, a part of my life that had been so hard to talk about became something comforting — almost healing — to discuss with perfect, inquiring strangers.
Above all, I realized I'd transformed a memory, a life, into a work of art. I'd like to think my dad would be proud of me for that.