NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Before I’m gone: A photo essay

This project is something that was born out of my own fears. It is a realization. It is a hard pill to swallow. It is a truth, that I (and many) need to face. This project was birthed from the knowledge of knowing that I won’t be on this planet for a long enough time that it’ll matter. I grew up with an irrational fear of death to the point that it would get in the way of my daily life. I’m not sure if my fear stemmed from ignorance, and knowing what happens when I stop breathing, or if it stems from not wanting to leave this world without accomplishing the things I still want to accomplish. “Before I’m Gone” is a love letter to all of the individuals that I had the pleasure of meeting. It’s a love letter to the conversations that we had and serves as a celebration to the moment in time and space we shared. These little conversations that I have with individuals serves as a reminder that they existed much before I was even an idea. Hearing stories from before my existence somewhat makes me accept the concept that I do not matter, and death is inevitable. It forces me to face my own mortality. There was a time before me, and there will be a time after me.

Portrait of Josselyn Fernandez in her apartmentPhoto by Bryan Fernandez

Portrait of Joselyn. She was “having a bad hair day, so excuse the outfit/hat.”


“I came to this country with a luggage full of dreams, but what I dreamt of being might’ve been too much. I dreamed of going to school, I dreamed of having a good job. I dreamed of opportunity. But I crashed into the reality of life, and how hard it actually is in this country. Back home (in the DR) I ran offices, and I had subordinates. My first job here (in the US) was in a factory, standing for hours. So that humbled me. But it was very discouraging, as I thought it’d be a lot easier. From the outside looking in, it looks magical. Everybody made it seem like if living here was easy. And everything was easy. But that is not true. This country might give you more opportunity, but it’s still not easy.”




A potted plant in an apartmentPhoto by Bryan Fernandez

One of her many plants

“I went to school for a bit, but I let go of school. Life got complicated and I had to tend to other things. Now, I’m a mother. But I’m happy. So happy. My best gift in life is being able to say that I am your mother. I regret a lot of things in life but the only thing I do not regret is having you. You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve said that since the day I found out I was pregnant.”

Photo of bedroom door in apartmentPhoto by Bryan Fernandez

My mother’s room. If she’s not out and about, she’s in her “love cave.”

“I think it’s important to accept that not everything happens the way you planned it. I want to believe that sometimes if you ended up doing what you planned, you wouldn’t be as happy as you thought you would have.. does that make sense? What I’m trying to say is, sometimes where life takes you is much sweeter than you were going. So yes, I do think that some things are out of our control, but maybe that’s for the best. But with that being said, I do still think that if you really want to do something, you should try. I think it’s better to know you tried, and it didn’t work out, than having to wonder what if your entire life.”


Josselyn Fernandez reading on her couch in her apartmentPhoto by Bryan Fernandez

Joselyn Fernandez

I wish I could include the film shots I got of her but I couldn’t get them developed in time. But this is my world. My motivation. My reason for the things I do every single day. This is my warrior, and my queen. This is my beautiful mother.