My dearest mom
Today I found myself unexpectedly eavesdropping on your photos.
It was so good to go back in time. Do you know there are photos on there that you still have to print out from 2010? (Yes, yes, I know you are busy. A truer word was never spoken.)
The reason I was snooping inside your digital memories is, of course, because I’ve been using your camera on an ad hoc basis lately for my work: partly because my own gave up the ghost long ago, and partly because I currently own a smartphone with an un-smart camera.
In the process of borrowing your camera on a semi-regular basis these past few months I have been, er, keeping it between assignments. And, of course, quite rightly you wanted it back.
So today I had a spare couple of hours to turn on my laptop and start processing. Firstly, I sorted all my work photos from the happy family photos on your camera’s memory. Then I gaily deleted my work photos, which I don’t need any more. And then I started looking at the family photos, and found myself on an unexpected trip down memory lane for the next two hours.
In vivid technicolour (mostly un-blurred), I remembered previous birthdays for Liam and Matthew.
I remembered previous Christmases when we were all together as a family: you, me, dad, Frank and Liam and Matthew.
I saw some of the photos from the time you and dad went over to visit Lorna and Domenico in Italy and celebrate dad’s 70th birthday.
I remembered times when dad could still walk and talk; when the scourge of his motor neurone disease had not yet manifested and brought with it this overwhelming sorrow for us all.
When we still had so much joy on those family occasions.
And so I eavesdropped on your photos.
I ended up copying all of them. Going through them was utterly marvellous. It reminded me that life is a process; that there are some things that can be changed and others that must be accepted and made the best of; that sometimes we discover our true strength only in the fires and the burning of unavoidable bone-deep sorrow.
And yet, at the same time, I refuse to give up on the flames of happiness and hope for the future. I just can’t. It‘s not in me to let the darkness overcome the light. I’m quite pedantic about it, really.
I find myself so grateful for all the happy times we have had – as well as for the strength and courage and sheer (sometimes bloody-minded) tenacity my Scottish heritage has bequeathed me. It’s been a most surprising gift.
I know the less-diluted happy times will come again in full strength, albeit in a different form and with different players taking centre stage or different roles.
I plan to be there.
PS Just one tiny confession: I deleted an image from your camera – just one, from almost 500. I simply had to. I knew I’d picked up quite a few extra pounds back in 2011/2012, but it was really quite unbearable to imagine this particular photo being around for posterity. It’s called editing.