Photographs

The camera remains empty. No images, no moments captured—nothing to attest to the recent milestones in my life, momentous as they were: My son’s graduation. A whole week to myself with my two-year old grandson: feeding him, bathing him, guiding his daily activities and language skills.

I sit in my son’s backyard. The air is hot and sticky, filled with the soothing sounds of silence: a plane buzzes distantly, a gust of wind brings in vague pounding from a construction site a few blocks away. Such noises are faint enough to let me hear the calls of the birds flying by and K’s splashing and playful chatter coming from his new inflatable pool. More wind sings through the trees. The family beagle barks at the passersby my ears cannot detect, busy as they are listening to the flies and wasps.

Even though I am sitting, one eye on K and the other on the book I’m trying to read, I can feel the moist grass on my little child’s feet. I can touch with my (little) fingers the dandelion he is now inspecting closely and note the crisp sound stored in my memory as he cracks up the stem. There’s the sticky nuisance of blades of grass on your hands as you move in and out of the pool… how difficult it is to get them off! K now knows how it feels to plunge your hands in the cold chlorine scented water to get rid of them.

I grab my camera. I should be recording this! But I am caught in the moment, the beauty of which moves me to the core. Like when my son C stepped on stage for his degree, my eyes and heart were so glued to the moment I could not interrupt it for a memento. The emotion so great I felt obliged to bury it deep inside, otherwise it would have just gushed up in tears washing away my makeup as well as the good feelings of the people around me.

My nose is trapped again by the smell of grass linked to the memory of childhood days long past and plays back in my mind what my body, my heart, and the world felt like then. My son looks at me from my grandson’s happy eyes. Now I understand why I failed to take any pictures. All of my most important memories, milestones and experiences have been captured by my senses, recording smells, sounds, sights and feelings that will bring them back to me over and over again.

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