Still in the shadow of my mother’s death in the fall of 2011, the feeling of inadequacy hits hard.  With that feeling, I think of those old images of hobos with all of their belongings tied in a kerchief at the end of a stick. All I want to do is run away.

Between comfort and the sting lies no safety

In the pain after loss there is nowhere to go.

And where I want to go doesn’t help. I want to hurt myself, berate myself. I want to overthink, underwork, overeat and overwork. I want to sit in a state of paralysis.

I want to make myself suffer. I can’t do that, but I’m used to it.

I’m trying to learn a new way.

And what is that?

she was small


Last week my sister came to visit me.

Her near week-long visit went by fast. I wasn’t ready for her to go.

As I watched her walk out and pack her truck, get in and settle for a long journey home I thought of when she was a toddler.

A particular moment passed by my brain where Emily was wearing a grey ruffled dress and opening the bottom drawer of the oven pulling out pots and pans so she could sit inside the drawer herself.

Her hair was in tiny pigtails that shot straight out the sides like shorter versions of Pippy Longstocking tails.

Being an older sister by twelve years, I find myself thinking of those moments more and more as time passes.  When those thoughts of the past come up, I then feel a need to watch over her like a mother would now that our own mother is gone.

I’m not a mother. But I am a sister. I hope I can fulfill this need.

I cried when she was walking out the front door to her car, as I do every time my family leaves after a visit.


I remembered when I was fourteen dressing Emily up and telling her to stand against an empty wall in my room for a photograph.

She was small and eager to do it.

I had a royal blue, terrycloth tube top I wore in the early 80’s which I wrapped around her and over her diaper like a mini-skirt, with her own striped toddler tee and sunglasses.

Even then I was thinking of models and fashion, an early attempt at portraiture.

I still love the idea of all of those things and found myself again, before she left for home, dressing her up, telling her to stand against a wall and taking her portrait.

I get to watch her and my other sister grow, mature, be successful.  She’s growing up and so am I, as a daughter, a sister, a photographer.