The unspoken power of a photo, the beauty of an image, the emotion of the visual. Why are we drawn to photos? What happens to us that when we see a picture, we want more than just a glimpse of a few seconds in the life of another, but also yearn to imagine all that is frozen in that capture of time.
My fingers trace around my mother's beautiful face, I see her cheekbones, her slim shoulders, I look at her. So young and at that moment, was her life happy? My sister rests in her arms, leaning in, effortless in her trust of my mother's presence. Were the days for my mother and her small family then, tranquil, full of Sundays spent drifting away hours in the river?
When she rode her father's horses, along with her sister and her brother, could she have imagined he'd be gone before reaching adulthood? Would she have stayed in these mountains forever without the bother of time? And how did I know without even looking closely at this photo that my mother was a woman who would not be riding side-saddle.
What dreams and wishes did my mother and father secretly hold behind their gaze here, as they smiled for someone with a camera? Did she hold a secret of a new life within her? Had she already whispered this to my father? Or was it all just this, the moment. The bliss of a sultry breeze that makes the promise of being young, eternal.
The glistening threads in our lives, did my mother here know it? That look she gives my sisters, right then and there, did she feel herself wrapped in the strands of spun gold that would make up her tapestry? It's the pull I feel, of what I see in her face, questions asked more than answered.
I tell myself, that this, all of this here, is what brought a silent smile to my mother's lips as the wind blew her hair that afternoon we spent on the lake's bluff. This photo making eternal the last time I'd be able to take her to feel the sun and return her if only for an hour, back to the mountains of Colombia.
The stand-still breathlessness that a photo gives us, more than what we see with our eyes, sweeping us away with an image that frees hopes and opens hearts to see all that isn't there -- the never ending story; one that makes it possible for us to see the before, the after, the during. The moment.
Life is an exquisite work in progress, burning with an intensity through our minutes and hours with a perfect whitehot fire that leave words failing, and unable to capture. So we try and hold it instead -- like a butterfly fluttering against our cupped hands.
With a fragile, foolish hope of keeping her here forever, I look at my mother, and take a picture.
* * ***As many of you know, my mother passed away August 5. I want to thank you, for holding me up, in this loss, that words cannot explain. Thank you.