I dedicate this book to my wife, Elisa Joy. She was my best friend, my trusted advisor, my inspiration, and my love. She fulfilled my hope and dreams of finding happiness and love. Although cancer has taken her from this world, her love and spirit continues to live in my heart.
Elisa Joy Barman
April 28, 1960 — April 17, 2001
© 1997, The Photographers Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Our happiest day, August 23, 1997

Born Elisa Joy Enison on April 28, 1960, Elisa started life in the borough of Queens in New York City. As with many of the middle class in that day, her family moved to the suburbs to raise their family. Elisa was raised in Rockland County, a bedroom community north of the City.

At 18, Elisa went to the University of Miami (FL) where she earned a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Sociology. As part of her degree program, Elisa spent nine-months in Israel living on a Yemenite Moshav to study their society. On the Moshav, Elisa learned more than expected in a sociology study. She learned about life, love, and family from strong, moral people that were rescued from persecution in emergency airlifts. This experience made a lasting impression on Elisa and shaped her view on life.

Elisa was very fond of Israel and her people. Subsequently, she went to Israel to work and explore life amongst those people. Elisa would recall the time she spent in Israel fondly and looked forward to the day that she could show me around this special place.

Between sojourns to Israel, Elisa found time to earn a Masters of Science in Computer Science with a concentration in computer graphics from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and a Masters in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Miami. Elisa wanted to use both degrees to develop new ways to use computers and graphics to enhance medical diagnostic systems. Elisa eventually went to work for the federal government with a group that was working to enhance medical imaging systems. She had two papers published at related conferences while working for the government.

Elisa and I had “met” in 1991 over the Internet; a time before Al Gore invented it and it became cool to meet someone over the Net. We became friends after she moved to New York for a job. We did not start to date until later that year when she moved to the Washington area to work for the federal government. I followed her to the D.C. suburbs in 1993.

When Elisa was injured in 1994, I began to care for her. As she worked through her rehabilitation, Elisa and I grew closer and became almost inseparable. After a while, Elisa started to respond to treatments but was still limited in what she could physically do.

Elisa was fun to be with and I decided I wanted our relationship to be “official.” Typical of the way we did things, we were walking to my car in a parking garage New Years Eve 1996 in Baltimore when I turned to her and said, “Let’s get married this year!” She gave me that look that said “you’re crazy but…” and said yes! Circumstances forced us to put off the wedding for a year, but we were married on August 23, 1997 in Washington, D.C.

We were not prepared for the cancer diagnosis. We had purchased a home to start our family and we were doing what was necessary to prepare ourselves medically so Elisa could become pregnant with her injury. The first hint of problems came on Election Day night with the diagnosis confirmed two weeks later.

I was at Elisa’s side when she had taken her final breath the morning of April 17, 2001–eleven days after my 41st birthday and eleven days before her’s. Elisa was a marvelous person and caring human being.

Before she died Elisa made me promise to finish this book. I never broke a promise to her and I was not going to start now. She would be happy to see that I kept this promise. But without her to share in this accomplishment, the joy is bittersweet. I miss her very much.

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