This Is Not An Exit
The phone rang. I remember thinking something was already wrong. Because of our time difference, Mom never called me in the evenings unless there was an emergency. In a desperate tone, she told me that my father had suddenly been hospitalized.
It was pancreatic cancer. Growing undiagnosed it had already entered Stage 4 and was considered extremely aggressive. With a heavy heart, I quit my job in Seoul and 36 hours later found myself on a flight home to America.
I was shocked and confused to see my father in this unexpected weakened state. Trying to make sense of the situation, I immediately began making a record. The need to preserve his remaining life was overwhelming and became my way of resisting the inevitable. Each click felt like I could stop time, no matter how painful, if only for a moment. Photography also helped me see the day to day struggles of my mother. Her anguish equaled his own, their hearts and minds tied together. After his passing, a sense of hopelessness took hold of her, making it difficult to speak her feelings. Seeking a way to facilitate delicate but necessary conversations, I showed her my images and listened to her words. Writing them down as we looked over the photographs started a journey of reflection for both of us.
The resulting document is one of vision and voice. Bound together through a personal process of grief, I hope they’ve created an emotional map, one that reveals our connectedness to each other while also furthering an understanding for all those navigating the loss of a loved one.