|Photo by ashleydoar|
I’ve seen this installation at the Art Institute of Chicago. It’s meant to represent the artist’s partner who died of AIDS; 175 pounds of candy, representing the partner’s body weight when he was healthy. Visitors are encouraged to take a piece of candy, representing how the disease ate away at him, and when it gets down to a certain level, it is to be replenished, giving him a sort of eternal life.
In some ways, I feel like Tim is this pile of candy, but in reverse. I imagine us at Tim’s lowest, 11 years old, locked on the ward of a psychiatric hospital for the first time, crouched in the corner a dark room, trying to outrun the demons in his head, while I sat alone at home, rocking back in forth in my own darkness, trying to wrap my brain around how my son could be so broken. Tim was a single, shiny, cellophane wrapped candy then, seemingly insignificant to the average passer by, but achingly absent to me. He was un-whole and I was left wanting.
We’ve spent the better part of a decade adding candies to the pile. Sometimes we get to add just one candy at a time. Other times hand fulls are thrown away, leaving us distraught, as if all the candies we’d added until then were for nothing. We’ve been blessed this past year to constantly add candies, throwing them at the pile so often it’s as if they were there all along. Those we’ve had to remove this year were mercifully one at a time; noticed at the time of discard but not tarnishing the overall magnitude of the pile. And while I am happy that the pile is at a healthy, sizable level, I stand vigilant beside it, waiting for the day when hand fulls are again thrown out at a more rapid pace than we can replace them. Logically I know that this fear keeps me from enjoying the candy we have today, but I cannot let down my guard. I love the broad, bright, shiny pile of candy we have before us now. I plan on hoarding it.