Illuminate Week 1: Self-Portrait

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve taken up Beryl Ayn Young’s Illuminate online photography class for bereaved mothers. It took much more gumption than I expected to pull myself together and complete my first week’s assignment. Not in the least because it required me to ask for help.

My assignment from this week: Self-portrait.

I was challenged to write a letter to my William, and then take photos inspired by my thoughts. Photos of myself. I found the temptation to hide behind things and not look at the camera more overwhelming that I could have imagined. You’ll see that in the photos I’ve shared below. I’ve shared my letter to William in full and mostly unedited, because I’ve challenged myself to not hide my journey. I staged my portraits, but my husband took them. I edited my photos in Picasa, my favorite free photo editor.

Dear William,

What is there to say? I miss you. I see littles your age – just barely, almost, wanting to take their first steps. Little heads full of hair, eyes bright with curiosity, voices full of jubilant laughter or severe indignation. 

But you are only in my mind, my heart. No tentative first steps, no jabbering, no joy or tears – other than what I can imagine for you. Our home is quiet, full of the ghostly echoes of laughter that never was. Mommy is tired, but not the fulfilling tired of late night feedings or early morning games. She’s tired with grief, fear, anger, loneliness – exhausted and aged by the daily fight of “moving on.” 

I’m not irreparable. I laugh, I smile, I rest, I work, I play. Many aspects of life are as they always have been. My tears for you are seasoned with joy; joy that you were – that you are! My sorrow is filled with hope, my loneliness sweetened with the promise of you in eternity.

You have a special place here – a garden, a toy box, a picture frame. A quilt, a painting, a cemetary plot. Evidence that you were, that you matter, that I love you, cherish you, remember you. 

Here is the root of what I hope these words will tell you – the very core of the tears and words and smiles and sobs. Mommy loves you. She loves you so much she can’t breathe. She loves you so much she can’t think. She loves you until it hurts and she will go on loving you even if it stops her heart beating. 

You are my greatest pride, my fiercest joy, my happily ever after that will come after. After all this earthliness is gone from me, after tears can no longer cry and this heart no longer beats. There is the joyful, eternal promise of a family finally united under the Banner of Love. 

To the moon and back, 


Self Portrait with my William Bear

Self Portrait with my William Bear

Watching William's Garden in the Rain

Watching William’s Garden in the Rain

Self Portrait with WilliamBear

Self Portrait with WilliamBear

The young-old woman quilting

The young-old woman quilting


3 thoughts on “Illuminate Week 1: Self-Portrait

  1. Please remind me not to read or view beautiful things that render me to tears in the middle of my work day. Thanks for sharing.

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