I dug out one of my favorite pictures of you today.
I keep it right in front of another one, the same size, of your mother. I grabbed both when I was there for her funeral, when we were looking through pictures, before they went back into a box. And I tucked them into her prayer book, which I also took. She is laughing as I never saw her do too much when I knew her. And the picture is slightly blurred, which lends itself to the idea that it was farther back in time, to become more blurry still, perhaps, the farther I continue to move away from her, from her smell of red wine, roses, and cigarettes.
Your picture, however, is clear. Your shoulder is bare, halter top tied back around your neck, leaning into the sun over your guitar. You are young, only just a little younger than the young-you of my memory when love first burned your image into my brain. And your hair is dark brown as it always is in my mind.
We share the same memory of this younger version of you. When someone refers to you as “blonde” we look at each other, sure that they were talking about you just a minute ago, but who is this blonde lady?
And I wanted to make sure that you knew today:
Do you know?
Do you know that I am as surprised as you are at your strange soft skin and the laugh lines around your eyes?
The passage of time is not more evident than when looking at my kids and at you, my Mommy. First images of love burn strong and deep. That is why my children are still babies at my breast. That is why I don’t notice my husband’s greying hair. And that is why when I come for a visit I am sometimes surprised to find you different.
And I know that’s how it will be when you are the oldest you will ever be, many many years from now, and I walk into your room, breath taken away by the site of how much you have changed since just a moment ago when you were a young woman with a bare shoulder and dark hair leaning into the sun.
Love seems to make a fool of time, whereas, somehow, time proves the soundness of love. And that is why you can never look so very old to me. And that is why I will never look so very old to you. And that is why my children will remember this young-me with my dark hair and smooth arms, too.
I love you, my young Mommy.
Your Little Girl.