Tuesday, March 17, 2009


These are some of my school portraits. My impulse is to try to narrate these photos. I want to write about them and capture what happened to me. I want to put words to it all.

But I don't think I need to.

1974, age four

1975, age five

1976, age six

1977, age seven

1978, age eight

1979, age nine

1980, age ten

And that was me. That is me.

Do I need to tell you that my mother sewed most of those clothes, and that I adored them? Do I need to tell you that, starting when I was eight, the photographers always positioned me very carefully in order to hide the massive defect lurking on the left side of my neck? Do I need to tell you how much I hated Picture Day?

Do I need to tell you that these pictures still hurt?


But I should tell you this. My eight-year-old looked at these photos. And he became quiet and was obviously confused. "What happened, Mom? Why were you so sad? Why did you stop smiling?" he asked.

My response surprised me a little. Because even though I had tears in my eyes, I smiled at him. Not an awkward smile. Not a pacifying smile. Not a fake smile.

I smiled genuinely, with almost overwhelming happiness. Because even though the pain of that little girl is still a part of me, I made it. The tumor didn't kill me. The sadness didn't kill me. I made it.

And now? Now I smile.


  1. Funny how you can cry and smile at the same time isn't it? Beautiful post as always.

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  3. It's hard not to notice....the absence of the smile seems so abrupt when you put the series up like that. It's very lovely that what he noticed the most was that your smile was missing.

    At least you got it back! :)

  4. Hey Goldfish! I, like your eight year old in sequence noticed the absense of smile and sparkly eyes. I am sad that your smile took a leave of absense because it's beautiful! And I am infinitely glad that it has found it's way home again because it's still beautiful.


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