Echoes of one million lost in the spaces they left behind

Put your son in Sherman Peebles’ barber chair and along with a buzz you could count on Peebles, a sheriff’s deputy who cut hair as a sideline, to issue a fatherly warning about staying out of trouble.

Now, seven months after the dapper sergeant died of COVID-19, life goes on at the Columbus, Georgia, shop owned by his best friend. But the aching emptiness of Peebles’ absence lingers. The brotherly affection he brought to each day, gone missing. The jokes and stories that go untold.

The pandemic has claimed nearly 1 million lives in the U.S., leaving empty spaces in homes and neighborhoods across the country, whether we are aware of them or not.

In portraits of these places left behind, emptiness claims a chair at a nurses station in a busy Alabama hospital, long occupied by a caregiver co-workers recall as “like everybody’s mama.”

It fills the Arizona bedroom of an 13-year-old lost to COVID, his action figures lined up just as he left them, on the dresser.

It floats, silent,…

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April 12th, 2022

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