Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Sound of Silence

As Photographer Dan Dixon adjusts the light stand, the room is warm and silent.  Randy Parker stares wistfully into his living room as his father and brother study the ceiling, and breath heavy.  "Almost ready," Dan says nervously, concerned that his attempt to capture Randy in the right light is weighing on his patience.  The long, quiet pause is likely the least of Randy's concerns.
The Parkers, Emily far right

Parkers granddaughter Emily was shot and killed by Adam Lanza yesterday in Newtown, Connecticut, and he has graciously agreed to be interviewed by me.

His son Robbie grew up in Ogden, attended Ben Lomand High School where he met his sweetheart Alissa.  They married, had three darling little girls, and moved to Danbury in June of this year.  Randy says the young couple loved the place, they'd recently purchased a charming home along a river bank, and Emily was still chatting about the fun  she had at the Christmas pageant the night before a gunman opened the door of her classroom.
Robbie and Alissa Parker

Randy seems relieved to sit, and say nothing, to hear nothing, to think about nothing.  As he presses his thumbs into his weary, watery, crimson eyes, I imagine him standing in front of his television, hand over mouth, searching for signs that Emily is still alive.  Perhaps a video clip of her hugging her mother, or sitting with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders being tended to by a fire fighter, but the clip never rolls.  Instead he sees pictures like the one to the left of his son and daughter-in-law inconsolable, confused and destroyed. I can imagine the volume of the television, the uneasy hum of reporters on the scene, describing the anguish, the anchors on set in New York, Atlanta and LA, ticking off the death toll, and the commentators, demanding more gun control, or lamenting the lack of God in schools.

While Dan fumbles with his earpiece, Randy seems to be breathing in the silence.  I decide I won't make small talk or offer more condolences, rather I'll give him some peace, let the stillness of the moment act as some sort of respite, to ponder nothing, or everything, without the blaring hate, opinion, and advice spewing from television, Twitter and Facebook.  Eventually I will start asking questions about his chatty, inquisitive, beaming little girl he has just lost, but for now.  Silence.

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