Incomplete: The Absent Hour


Today is missing an hour.

We’ve sprung ahead. With my phone’s camera I captured sunrise on this deficient day. It featured an almost fully saturated sky, with just a flickering sliver of pure white light at the far left.

My husband Jim’s camera equipment occupies the drawers of an antique pine chest which has wended its way to me from my mother’s childhood home on Cape Cod. The four deep drawers have slatted bottoms which do not fit completely together, sharp triangular slivers affording a peek at what lies beneath.

I don’t know what the lenses do. I am flummoxed by whether any of the random chargers attaches to any of the photographic gizmos in those drawers, which still hold a hint of musty salted air. I don’t even know if all these bits and pieces, these cool black matte metal cylinders and scored metal gadgets, necessarily even belong to his cameras, but I hoped one of our children–versed by her father in the art and heart of photography–would want to use them someday.

Jim loved photography. On my very last walk-through before moving from the home he loved, the last thing I found, face down in the attic under tons of familial flotsam that had been packed away, was a black and white print he had developed of a boardwalk meandering through a Massachusetts marsh to an unseen point in the distance in a place called Land’s End.

One of my daughters is on spring break.  It warmed my heart when she first began to pick up a camera again after her father was no longer there to pick up his and accompany her outside.

This time she began going through the chest drawers in search of a tripod.  She found assorted pieces of no fewer than three different tripods, but all her engineering permutations still yielded one small missing piece: a single rectangular fixture, likely lined in cork, needed to screw atop the legs and hold her camera steady.

Without it, I imagine the camera shudders just a bit, the way I do at physical therapy as I stand on my compromised leg, wavering like a graceless flamingo, trying to build back my muscle strength and undo the damage wrought by my sudden break.  My leg will heal, but there will always be a tiny gap where the bones fractured and never again will be joined as one.  With dedicated work on strengthening all that surrounds the fissure, the weakness may lie dormant, revealing itself only in rare and unpredictable faltering.

“A false move here, a stumble there
A box of letters and a lock of hair
That’s all that’s left when I turn out the light
I count the missing pieces every night.”

~  John Hiatt 

Almost five years  after Jim died, everything–down to its innermost parts–remains, to a varying degree, incomplete.






Author: Stephanie

In her spare time, Stephanie works full-time, and then some, as an attorney. She has published articles and delivered talks in arcane fields like forensic evidentiary issues, jury instructions, and expert scientific witness preparation. She attended law school on the banks lso is an adjunct professor at a law school near the banks of the Charles River and loves that dirty water, as she will always think of Boston as her home. You are welcome to take a look at her Facebook author page, or follow @SMartinGlennon on Twitter and @schnitzelpond on Instagram. Bonus points for anyone who understands the Instagram handle. All content on this blog, unless otherwise attributed, is (c) 2012-2023 by Stephanie M. Glennon and should not be reproduced (in any form other than re-blogging in accordance with the wee Wordpress buttons at the bottom of each post) without the express permission of the domain holder.

11 thoughts on “Incomplete: The Absent Hour”

  1. We don’t put our clocks forward until the end of March. Here on the boat it doesn’t matter which way the hour goes, together we are content to rise and slumber with the sun.
    Beautiful photograph Stephanie.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing from the deep recesses of your story…your heart…and yet, I am sure, words fail to convey the living color of the memories…moments…and all the obvious love for your husband…but keep the words flowing. Have a great day, minus one hour.

  3. Almost five years – I think of Jim every day, but over the last month I think of him even more. The last year of his life, the last weeks. The impossibility of it all. Thank you, Steph, for sharing your heart with us and the world. This is an aching time for me, a remembering time,and you opening your heart and soul is essential and beautiful to me. I appreciate knowing of the drawer filled with camera essentials – that don’t fit together – but all that stuff meant something big to Jim. I love that you have taken up photography, but ever so clearly with your own, strong, colorful, creative voice. We are here for you, of course, but I know solidly that you are here for us too.

  4. It sounds to me like those incomplete spaces are being filled with memories and growing stronger over time. Thanks for sharing this with us, Stephanie.

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