"When Uncle Pete died of what was probably cirrhosis hastened by cancer and he knew he had only a few months left he did something I thought was way out of character: he spent his days in his cabin organizing his slides. His vast collection of colored positives. He had grown up with film and had taken exclusively slides which he said were sharper. He put the yellow paper boxes, the white and blue plastic ones, each one a roll, in a foot high stack that mostly covered his kitchen table. In often intense pain by the light of a small window by day and a standing lamp in the evenings, he un-boxed them one roll at a time, slipping each mounted picture into a sleeve in a transparent binder sheet...then it came to me: the obvious epiphany that he was reliving his life. Doh. Slide by slide, picture by picture. He was aggregating memory like a wall against extinction and the little boxes of slides were his bricks.
Up on the ladder in the soft morning, listening to the last pull of fuel gurgle into the wing tank and gauging the time by the sun. Something about that made me think of Pete and his albums leaning into the table in the dim close cabin that smelled of resin and woodsmoke and coffee. Like a man leaning into an incessant wind. Keeping track of things that have no use anymore except as a bulwark against oblivion. Against the darkness of total loss."
"The Dog Stars" by Peter Heller