She wondered why he didn't simply take the picture. It was a wonder for a heart's colonialist, an intervener.
Events had only the sadness of their course to give them form. Yet since form gave the world what joy we could discern there, this was a paradox. There were times when he wasn't too hardened by the routine of his practice when he could discern the merest turning, like someone standing high upon a precipice beyond a river (here among the Blue Ridge mountains say, or the Catskills near the creek where Lee lived; though he was aware, even as it came, that this image had its source in dark nuns' childhood explanations of how God's bright providence shone in the face of our free will).
He would see a patient in a pre-op consultation, the room light low for the vigil of his family, a hopeful wife perhaps (the damp and wadded handkerchief in her hand belying her humble confidence), a solicitous son or a brash one (filled with golf course businessman's bravado, "Let's get this over, doc, huh? You and me."); and look past them beyond the dark hollow man's of the man's eyes looking for what spark was there, if any.
It was like standing high above a stream.
He would sometimes shudder in the knowledge that he would see them each again, humble wife, brash son, dark father alike, each at last transported into something transcendent and bright, the sadness of his life's course giving them form.
"I'm sorry," he would say, "We did all we could do, your loved one as well. He couldn't sustain this operation and we couldn't keep him beyond what he could sustain."
It was a photograph as well. All history was a photograph you couldn't take (he was aware of this pun as well. it was what people said in their grief: they couldn't take it), a photograph you couldn't take but could only to be given.