Sunset over the California desert
Sunset over the California desert (Miranda Hernandez)

In the black-and-white photos, he looks like he’s sleeping. Photos are difficult; they don’t tell the whole story.

After the announcement, I received messages from obscure acquaintances. I realized I had joined this silent club. The landscape is different here. Some things are even better, but never enough.

I put photos up at work. I think that a year ago this would have felt wrong. Someone asked a colleague why I was so morbid. I find grace in the fact that she doesn’t understand.

I wanted the suburbs — the white picket fences; the black and white photos where nobody dies. I live in the desert. The colors are brighter here. The beauty is messy, but so much more real.

And here is the fallacy, for none of it’s worth it. It’s like hearing, “You’re strong,” when I don’t have a choice.

The desert has beauty because of the missing. The flowers are highlights, relieving the sand. The people are water, more deep than I understood. And all of it’s wasted. I cling to my photos.