By MICHAEL PERKINS
MY MOTHER’S PASSING, JUST A LITTLE OVER A WEEK AGO AT THIS WRITING, has understandably released a tornado of feeling, not all of it tragic. More specifically, the portion that is purely sad is actually quite compact; intense, certainly, and at times devastating, but by no means the dominant current in my head. Gratitude occupies the space within my heart far too greatly to yield much real estate to mere sorrow.
Looking over the many images of Mother for use in the usual tributes, I find myself wishing that someone, somewhere, had taken far more pictures of just the two of us together. That unique transmission of energy, hope, and love between parent and child is a rare quality, and is, in photographs, as visually elusive as heat lightning. Candids from birthdays, Christmases and graduations hint at it; few fully capture the entire miracle.
But, this morning, as I was once again bemoaning how few of those grownup-kid transmissions I possessed to comfort me in her absence, I saw that exact energy in a shot I had made of strangers, a single frame among hundreds in a sequence that I had glanced at once and filed away under For Future Consideration. Suddenly that “future” was upon me, as I rediscovered the image you see here.
Like many photos, it’s as evocative for what it doesn’t show as what it does. I can’t tell if this is merely a tender moment, or one in which the small boy is excited, bewildered, tired or just clingy. And nothing of the mother’s face can be seen at all. In some ways, the picture is unfinished, a rehearsal for something more eloquent promised for a few moments later. However, there is the feeling that these two people are, for this one instant, totally sufficient to each other. Their connection is wonderfully profound. They are of each other, and the rest of the world is, at least for now, irrelevant. Looking at it through the filter of my recent loss, the image is no longer invisible to the current me. It’s now an essential possession, something magical that I was luckier than I knew just to witness.
For a moment, looking at the picture, I forgot about reality, and experienced the feeling that I’d love to show it to Mother. But, in her wisdom and her love, it’s nothing, really, that she hasn’t seen before, nothing she and I haven’t lived before. And that’s enough for now.