Year in Photos: ‘Quiet Courage of a Woman Who Truly Has Touched My Life’
After a day of re-arranging, Marie Esselborn places a picture in the window of her modest apartment in Hanover, N.H. on Tuesday, May 7, 2013. She has lived alone for the past couple years, after her husband, Albert Esselborn, moved to an assisted living facility. As she turned down her bed for the night around 7:30 p.m., she stopped for a moment. "It's such a small bed," she said. "This is around the time I miss Al." Valley News - Libby March Purchase photo reprints »
I met Marie Esselborn through a routine assignment — well, sort of routine. Having heard about her from Valley News health care reporter Chris Fleisher, I wanted to meet her and requested to be the photographer to shoot her portrait during her interview.
Marie has been married for over 40 years. She and her husband, Albert Esselborn, are tremendously close, but they don’t live together anymore. A few years ago, his dementia drove them to the decision to live separately — he in an assisted living facility, and she in a modest apartment just a couple miles down the road in Hanover. She visits him for a few hours three mornings per week.
“It’s very difficult because it’s the love of my life,” Marie said in the Valley News story. “I’m losing my best friend, my companion for 40 years. I miss him terribly. And yet, because I don’t cling to that, I can recognize the moments of joy.”
For three months, I got to photograph Marie and Al’s relationship. This photograph wasn’t one we chose to run in the newspaper , but it is my favorite. On this afternoon she was working on re-arranging her apartment more to her liking, and she put this small picture in the window. This was an apartment she was making her home in alone, without Al, after four decades of living together. She was placing it just so, reaching toward the light in a dim room, just as she does in the landscape of her life. She misses her husband constantly, but she finds a way to move through that pain and still find the beauty in daily life.
Now that I’ve left the Upper Valley, Marie and Al are two of the people I miss the most. Getting to know Marie was and still is an honor, and I hope this photograph is a testament to the quiet courage of a woman who has truly touched my life. — Libby March
The Valley News' three staff photographers and two interns are sharing the stories behind their favorite photographs of the year. Read about their favorites in their own words at this link. More of their favorites can be seen in the Photo Galleries section.