Monday, 20 June 2016

Through your lens

I've never had a decent 'author' photo. It's been okay because I've never really quite seen myself as a proper author. I never thought I was good enough, as an author, or as anything really. I've always been plagued by self-doubt. It was something you and I had in common, along with the difficult fathers. But when I published my first book last year, I thought I'd better make a website and I struggled to find one of those suitably enigmatic portraits that authors have. So I cobbled something together using inadequate snapshots taken by friends. Some time after we got together, I asked you if you'd take a good author portrait for me but you never did. Like so many things we had planned, we never got round to it. Or so I thought.

And then I found this photograph amongst the files on your laptop after your death and instantly thought that here it was, a gift from you to me - the author photo that you never took. It is extra special to me because, though you'd never shown it to me before, strangely, you had written about it in a message to me, the message that you sent me when you were wavering about whether you were good enough for me. It was taken in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park last October on the day that we got together (for the second time!) This is what you wrote:

I was looking at one of the pictures I took of you yesterday on the bridge where the poppies are. I could eulogise. I'm not going to though, except to say that one of the qualities I saw there seemed to be a tremendous maturity and yet last night as I looked at you I saw a completely different face, youthful, angelic almost, such grace. I am overwhelmed.

So am I, when I look through the photographs that you took of me. Somehow, looking at myself through your lens, I see a different version of myself. I can see myself the way you did. And the gift isn't just the pictures to put on my website and on the jackets of the books that I must now write, it is the gift of having been truly loved. I can see myself through your eyes and know that, just as you were, I am loveable. I am good enough. It is the most precious gift. Thank you.