Google Maps’ Street View was introduced back in 2007, intended as a way to make the lives of drivers easier, but some have found a far more moving use of the feature.
Inspired by a tweet from popular “confessional” Twitter account, @fesshole, 38-year-old Sean Docherty shared the beautiful moment Google Maps captured in 2009 of his late parents holding hands outside his home. He’s one of many using Maps to revisit their loved ones before they passed away, frozen in time, in a world where they’re still here.
Docherty’s parents passed away in 2010 and 2013, but he discovered the image in 2014.
“It’s like I’m driving past them myself,” he told Newsweek . “I can’t remember why I was looking, but I saw the Fesshole tweet and it reminded me how lucky I was to have it.”
“I’m an only child and I have no parents or grandparents left. Any small memories mean the world to me. I’m thankful for my son or else I’d be completely lost,” he added.
The image was captured by the Google Maps car shortly after his mom had been diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer, and just months before she could no longer leave the house: “It’s amazing to see them walking around normally, and being cute together.”
It’s rare enough to find a world in which you can exist with loved ones again, but Docherty realizes just how lucky he is to have captured them so casually holding hands: “I guess the odds must have been stacked against me to have them caught on camera at that exact moments, so i feel blessed to have it.”
“Sometimes when I’m struggling or missing him, and often late at night, I’ll find him there walking down the street,” said Lisa Paterson, 38, whose dad was captured taking the bins out for his elderly neighbors years back. He died suddenly five years ago at the age of 62.
At the time, Paterson’s dad found the image online himself and “thought it was so funny that he has been caught walking to help their elderly neighbors bins out.”
Now for Paterson, it’s not just the memory of him finding it that makes it so special, but the 3D feature too: “I love that I can see him from different angles, it’s like he’s still there in that world,” she told Newsweek .
“I go back and look at night when I can’t sleep and I’m thinking of him.”
Bernard Baker, 49, similarly shared the memory of his mom outside her house that Google Maps captured shortly before she passed, just over a year ago.
“We hated her smoking, but good on her she enjoyed it. Always makes me smile seeing this picture, creeping about for a cigarette,” he told Newsweek . “My mom passed away about two weeks after this picture was taken. When she left the house in the ambulance, I was standing at the door watching her.”
Baker discovered the image as a happy accident, while checking to compare the house to before they rebuilt it.
“I moved back into my mom’s house after my father died, with my wife and children. I hated the thought of her being alone. She enjoyed the chaos of family life,” he remembered. “Once we moved in we set about rebuilding the house to suit all our needs, taking care of our dear mom.
“Every now and again, I’ll see if she’s still there,” said Baker.
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