There is a photo that hangs
in her bedroom
tucked in a frame she bought
when she still shopped at walmart
It sits there
against the calm of the forest green wall
the color chosen by her husband
a man willing to paint the walls hot pink
if she so desires
She walks by this photo often
as she brings in the laundry
on her way to the shower
while she ushers the children away
playfully leads her husband inside
But it is today
on her way past the photo
that she pauses
long enough to stare into the lightness of her youngest son’s eyes
the black palm trees and sunset hues of his hawaiian shirt
a perfect reminder of
the mid-June luau that ended his first year of preschool
a perfect reminder
of other things
She closes her eyes as she stands before this photo

and remembers vividly
the events of this life changing day

A mother among mothers

her smile strained against her lying lips
graciously thanking teachers
making playdates she never intends to keep
though she takes the time to take this photo
her pride for her son in stark contrast
to the hatred she has for herself
She goes home on this day
and opens the wine a little earlier than normal
“in celebration” she tells herself
though she does not feel joy but pain
She is drunk by the time he is home
no dinner on the table
the children perched in front of the television
stale snacks littering the floor
she avoids his gaze
because she has broken her promise again
waiting for him to retreat so she can continue pretending
everything is
just as it should be
but he is tired this time
fed up this time
tells her to go to hell this time
and for some

baffling reason
she believes him this time

The memories fill her up
turn her inside out
confine her for a moment
and she forces her eyes open before
they consume her completely
She stands in front
of this photo
taken on the day
when the world fell apart
then made sense again
a photo she keeps
to give her the courage
to remember
a day
she cannot afford
to forget
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3 Replies to “A Picture Worth the Pain it Brings”

  1. Your talent is amazing. Your life story? Astonishing. But it is the honesty in which you use both that makes my heart sing.

    You my friend have a gift.

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