Between Cellophane Sheets
My mom shaped how I see the world. She photographed every part of our family life. Over time the images became so familiar to me, almost like pieces of furniture that I would sit on or walk past daily. But looking back at them now, I realize that they are incredibly nuanced. They emanate her. They exist as preserved fragments of her very being, slipped between cellophane sheets and stacked in dusty albums. I graduated from college the same month that she died. An unfathomable future without my mother lay before me. I decided that stillness, “the next thing” would make her absence too tangible. And so for one year I found myself in constant motion. I biked, I ran, I camped, I farmed. I changed apartments every month. I found people who knew nothing about me or my mother. I lived in places where I could swim, where I could float on my back, and drown out everything around me. I found jobs that kept my hands busy - monotonous, tiring, physically demanding work. Work that was hard. It was the my aging grandparents - entering their own transitory phase - that brought me back down to earth. I must be here for this because she can’t. I am paralyzed in this role. What can I do for someone who is fading fast but grasping for some sense of normalcy, independence. Not much. I can be present and bear witness to their entrance into this new chapter, a juncture that I will never endure with my own mother.