Only the Bones

Valerie Y O Kim

2016 - Ongoing

Relationships are complicated. Magnificent, distinct worlds. These are emotional terrariums that need care, with weeds to pull and the wonder of occasional blooms.

This is the story of a couple's passage through Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease. Wrestling with the havoc of the illness on their daily life and the future of their dreams, the woman turned to use her camera in the ocean once a week for an hour. Photographing the waves, she witnessed the chaos. Under the water with silence as meditation, she practiced watching what she could not change.

This book watches their process using black and white photographs of him with minimal text on vellum paper and of the ocean in color double spreads as they made the eight-year voyage. Otherwise, text is reduced to a Preface, a poem “Only the Bones,” and an Afterword.

What occurred is that she learned to shift her perception to a wider lens. She learned to stand her ground with grief, to not look away, instead to hold it and to keep breathing; watching as perspective shifted. Transformed to the place where love lives, into courage. Seeing the immensity of our unlikely existence from the view of all subatomic particles, as we are birthed from the death of the same star. We are from the same material; seeing this is the phenomenon of our time.

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  • We met in Los Angeles.

  • It feels like me.

  • I feel like I'm a spy.

  • Its not you.

  • I can't breathe.

  • Suddenly an open hole, a piece of sky.

  • We lived there.

  • Turning,
    becomes (white) light.

  • To see the immensity of our unlikely existence is a phenomenon of our time.