What is behind these pictures? These pictures of her childhood, youth, adulthood. Today’s pictures. Does it matter? Would it change anything to know? Let’s face it things aren’t always as they seem. The deck is shuffled. Photographs turn up in random order.
Yes, she’s queen. Look at her all dressed up in purple and red. She’s a good queen. She takes care of all the stuff that needs to be taken care of in order to pull off an occasional function. She is surrounded by beautiful women, laughter in their eyes. They are having such fun. She smiles. She greets you. Sometimes she even gives out a hug. But what made her start this chapter of this disorganization?
She sits in a meeting. A meeting with a group of drunks. She looks good. Well maybe she looks a little tired. She speaks what’s on her mind. Or does she? Sometimes she seems so confused and rattles on. But she says profound things… once in a while. But are they her truth? Her real truth? Or just what she wants to believe?
Back up a little. Check out that picture of her wedding day. Her hair’s all done up pretty, curls floating on top of her smiling face. She’s dressed in blue, not even a wedding dress, just a plain old dress, one that could be worn to work. What’s up with that?
Her first born, maybe six months old, sits in a car seat, on the kitchen table, holding a bottle of vodka. A premonition set there by her? Or a reflection of her own life?
Here she is five years old, standing straight, modeling dress crocheted by grandma. She has a big smile. She holds out the skirt showing a big semicircle of grandma’s perfect needlework. Her face is tilted, just a bit, is the smile forced or sincere?
High school picture, twelfth grade. She has shoulder length blond hair. She looks pretty. But there’s something about her. Something that doesn’t match … the eyes don’t quite sparkle. Is that a forced smile, one the photographer had to coax out of her?
A couple of days old she is in her father’s arms. There’s a long trailing blanket wrapped around her. Her father holds her tight, looks down at her, grinning at his first daughter. For the next two years he doesn’t appear in any of her pictures. Where was he?
Cats. Every year there she is with a different cat, or cats. Well almost every year. They seem to come and go. Lose one and then get another? Disposable pets? Or is there another story behind those pets? What about the picture of her brother trying to save the one she killed?
She’s nine years old and holds a new baby sister. At nine years old she looks upon the baby sister as a treasure, a doll come to life. Does she appear to be truly content or is there a hint of jealousy?
Nursing her first born, she sits in a rocker. She’s looking down at the baby, her hand on his soft fuzzy head. The blanket she hides her breast under has temporarily slipped away. Is she comfortable?
It’s August. She, pregnant and oblivious, sits next to her mom,. Her mom is sick and so drawn that it’s obvious she is nearing her final days. Does she know or is she too distracted by the tiny feet kicking within?
She stands surrounded by roses blooming in every imaginable color, in the rose garden, next to her father who is now crippled over his cane, in the garden that he planted when he was able. Behind them is a special rosebush, a plaque indicates it was planted there in memory of her mother. Does she realize what a beautiful woman her mother was? Do the thorns in the roses have an underlying significance to her?
She sits on a footstool, next to her big brother. Her oldest brother. He is propped up, under blankets that barely cover the huge tumors that have engulfed his frail body. It looks as though she is trying to tell him something but just can’t find the words. Is that an uncommunicative expression of love in her eyes?
She is the picture of innocence in a pale pink tent dress, white gloves and shoes. Beside her stands her newly wedded brother (the younger of her two older brothers) and his bride. Is that smile an illusion of happiness?
Sitting on the edge, on the top of Mt. Whitney, she looks over the side at the panorama below her. How did she get there and why?
At the edge of a mountain wilderness she embraces eight women. While their clothes are rumpled and dirty and their bodies are slumped under the weight of heavy backpacks, their filthy faces exude tears of accomplishment, joy and freedom. There is a look of trust that bonds them together. What brought these ladies together and what have they experienced?
She holds her second born. Her first born, barely 14 months old, clings to her, peering into the folds of a soft blue blanket to see his younger brother. How will she handle two children so close together in age?
It is her mother’s funeral. She rests her glass of wine upon her pregnant belly. Four months later she sits on the piano bench, gulping down glass after glass of deep red wine, singing, missing the beginning pangs of labor. Was it ignorance or did she just not care about the new life struggling inside of her?
She holds a medallion. A medallion earned after one year of sobriety. But was it deserved? Why does she still question it 20 medallions later?
The preteen class lines up proudly displaying their certificates of completion. She is in the center, the preachers daughter, gripping her catechism certificate. Does anyone know she ransacked her father’s office for the answers because she couldn’t stand not getting 100%?
Standing on a corner in Montreal, she shares a cigarette with one of her best friends. It’s their senior trip. Clipped to the back of the picture is an obituary. Her friend died, tragically, just months after that pose. Could she ever forget?
She is with a group of friends, jumping rope. Meanwhile her parents are having a conference with her third grade teacher. They have just been told she is a loner and needs to socialize more. Next picture, she sits alone with her tiny red ball and 10 jacks. Why not?
She wears a green girl scout uniform, beret perched atop her short curly hair. There is a case of girl scout cookies ready to deliver. Why is it that her banner has no patches?
She said she wouldn’t go to the hospital when her grandson was born. It was too painful. She didn’t want to get attached. She knew what would happen but she ended up going anyway. Would you want to watch as she raises this grandson?
Follow me as I journey to the end of the story.