I found an old photograph of my mother last night.
It was taken on Saturday August 3, 1940 at Nantasket Beach.
At the time, she would have been 12 years old, close in age to my youngest.
The photo was originally black and white but the passing of time has drenched it in antiquated sepia tones, similar to the way our own personal memories take on a rustication in the subtleties of detail.
In the picture, my mother is wearing a button down shirt with vertical stripes.
My mind automatically adds colour and I see vibrant red and white stripes that make me think of candy canes; a comforting child’s confection.
She’s looking back over her left shoulder and smiling a smile that I fondly remember. She was happy that day—I can see it in her eyes and sense it in the sweet innocence radiating from her face.
My intense joy in looking at this picture is tempered by my knowledge of what the future will bring her; the total devastation and loss of all people, places and moments in time that really meant something to her…perhaps like the day this photo was taken.
If I were an all-powerful being capable of miracles, I would have given her back this particular day: the warm sand between her toes, the brackish ocean breeze, the cute boy that smiled at her as she strolled the beach; I would give her back all the love and happiness she would sadly miss in her later years.
Though this picture breaks my heart in a bittersweet way, its chaste beauty heals me in a way I may never comprehend.
Maybe I’m not meant to know the ‘why’ of it.
I see the image above this post as the pure embodiment of my mother’s soul, at peace and forever frozen in time.
For me, it’s an unforeseen gift that disease will never take away.
I often forget that she was once just a little girl.
Maybe that’s what I’m meant to know.