Help From Above: Mom led me to my favorite photo

Hi there,

It’s late at night (way past my usual bedtime), but I’m having trouble turning off my computer and going to sleep, so I thought I’d write to you.

A funny thing happened this afternoon. I was looking for photos of my mom to use in my book proposal, and I realized I couldn’t find my favorite photo (the one you see here).

Remember that this photo was taken in the ‘90s, way before the invention of digital cameras, so the only keepsake I have of it is the actual photograph – and maaaybe the negatives somewhere in a shoebox, but who knows?

Perhaps I should explain why I love this photo. It was taken at my cousin Deena’s Bat Mitzvah in Los Angeles. I was 17 and senior year had just begun, plus I was in California with my 4 closest girl cousins. What could be better? More importantly, the event is the last memory I have of my mom being 100% healthy and happy. The party was in the fall, and my mom was diagnosed that January.

I know it’s stupid, but in the last 6 years since she died, I’ve made this “the wandering photo.” Sometimes it appears crammed between two CDs in my bookcase. Sometimes it’s used as a bookmark. Sometimes it’s propped up against a different framed photo. Sometimes it’s tacked to my bulletin board. I just really like to “happen upon it,” since it always makes me smile.

Well, today when I was actually looking for it (and not just “happening upon it”), it was gone. I searched everywhere. All the places I mentioned above, plus my photo shoebox, my nightstand, my sock drawer – everywhere I could think of. I cursed myself for being so disorganized and swore if I found it I’d change my irresponsible habits. How could I treat photos of my mom so carelessly? These are all I have left.

Frustrated and depressed, I slumped against the side of my bed and took some deep breaths. Calm down, I told myself. Think clearly and the hiding spot will come to you.

Suddenly, as if a hand were guiding me, I squinted more closely at the bookshelf right in front of me. Sure enough, tucked under a few new novels was my photograph. I thought I might start crying, but as soon as I saw the photo, it made me smile – even more, because I knew my mom had led me to it.