Motherhood with a Camera: Amy Grace, A Beautiful Life Photo

  In the morning as the storm begins to blow away the clear sky appears for a moment and it seems to me that there has been something simpler than I could ever believe... it must have been here neither early nor late then by what name can I address it now holding out my thanks.

- w.s. merwin


i nearly missed all of this.

i know so many of us can say the same, for some one, terrible reason, or for many. my brother and i had a joke about our resumes, the bumps and roadblocks and hurts we could list and almost laugh about. the kind of joke that stung our eyes. there is fate, there are nightmares, there are twists like vines that lead us to the light, and choke it out. some of them grow inside of us. i learned how to set some free, let them break through my skin, leaving me cracked open, ready to be whole.

my son was a surprise baby. two weeks before i discovered i was pregnant, i decided to learn to eat again. it was really a decision to live. over twenty years being born, with stops and starts like crashes. he saved my life, his mirror of a soul finding his way to me. because it became both our lives. it became a last chance i was happy to bet on. now i watch my daughter approaching nine, her feet at the very edge of this age, of so much more. a year away from my first starvation. it started that young, like a hook in my side, snagging me, pulling me in and out of the stream for years, my lungs aching, just longing to breathe, to give in to something that did not require a constant fight with myself. the ever muffled sounds of the world underwater, eclipsed by the noise of the fight. i felt hollowed out; i felt everything. the years when i should have been all hope, my childhood was burning, with the energy, the calories, the constant stream of math problems keeping a toxic equilibrium i could balance against, terrified, comforted, always hungry for everything. losing mass and finding this lonely, singular devotion to everything i am not today, caged inside myself. i wish i could say that something cool and hard and certain had saved me. it might have been the feeling of the bathroom floor against my cheek, too many times, where a shower would end. when my heart hurt and raced and fluttered and seemed to swallow its own beats. when i could hear my daughter coming into the room, and it took every ounce of life to rouse me. when i realized like a hot flash of lightning, i was lucky to get up. when my fear of leaving her in this world had become my world. so a switch turned off, and the terrible, beautiful, aching unraveling began, with a tiny seed of a boy inside me, improbable and miraculous. a reward i promised to earn with every cell of me, every day.

these pictures that i take, they let me see the way i feel. they let me rest my eyes upon the "too much", which is really too much world, too much feeling, too much love, too much to lose and hold and protect and fear. and i can see that all of this life, is just enough. every tiny breath is something to celebrate, because of the fight to take it. every movement has weight and consequence. sometimes things go terribly wrong, even on the sunniest days. the pictures are symbols of this life, partners with the metaphors i find along the way, laid next to their toys, folded in with their clothes, packed away in her lunch, laced through his fingers around mine, with the wind and light that find them. i am in love with the honesty of photos. the tiny glimpses of eternity we catch that do not fall between our fingers, when we will inevitably squeeze too hard. i hate secrets. i have cast them out, because for most of my life, there were compartments that never saw light. the blinds have been drawn, the day i was waiting for is here. it is everyday, it is with these kids, it is in this skin.

all of life is about feeding yourself, with love and art and people and books and music and acts of kindness. we are nourished by the lives we build, layer by layer of detail and experience, pain and mistakes. these things have to be our own. there is no way to copy it or will it or wish it into being. revelations are all around us. sometimes they take great loss to reveal themselves.

so i see this joy and wind, the quiet and closeness, the hands reaching for me, the light all around them, and i see love. i almost slipped away. i may again, in some new way, over which i have no control. but i will never, never let go of these hands, and i will always be there when they need me. i will feed my body, i will nourish my soul. i will let the light in everywhere. i will not take pictures of our shells, but of our souls. sharing it feels like sweet redemption.


About Amy Grace, A Beautiful Life Photo, based in San Diego, CA:  Website | Facebook | Contact