All in a smile

Such a lovely photograph of my grandmother and I. Suddenly, however, I am sucked into a whirlwind of memories that I do not wish to remember and typically am able to block out. These memories surface around the time my grandmother was fighting her battle with cancer. Surrounding this photograph are both good and bad memories: half of her lung surgically removed, treatments and disappointing news, and how out of the loop my family kept me.

“Come on down, mom, it’s fine,” says my mother to my grandmother. Even at my young age I know exactly what to expect. My grandmother has officially lost her hair. She’s been dealing with her cancer for a while now and the chemotherapy has been taking a toll on her. Despite her sincere happiness at all times, I cannot even fathom how much pain she’s in. Almost as if a dream, my grandmother glides down the stairs with her usual warmth and joy and with the most beautiful bald head I’ve ever seen.

And this, in essence, is how I’ll always remember my grandmother. Strength, patience, and sheer happiness: all words that I would associate with the most courageous woman I know. So much of her life is a mystery to me still. However one thing I can always count on is the effortless smile that she holds on her face no matter what.  I found this photograph while showing my brother’s girlfriend family albums over break. I had such a strong emotional reaction to the image, seeing my grandmother in this way before her sickness, that I felt compelled to use it as my memory for this week. It’s striking how emotionally attached I felt to the image when I truthfully have never seen it before. My thoughts raced back to that specific moment in which I believe I was proudest of my grandmother. Not knowing the exact time or context of the photograph suddenly doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I can trace this photograph back to these specific moments of my life. Moments that I know have distinguished me as the person that I have become.

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