Two years ago, my mother passed away. She was strong, resilient, and despite what she faced, eternally positive.
While subsequently going through her things, I found that she had kept many pieces of clothing from her younger years that I had never seen, and that had a surprisingly (she never did quite think of herself as fashionable) amazing aesthetic. Driven by her unwavering support of my creative pursuits, I was inspired to capture what I had found in a way that would hopefully honor her and capture her essence. This was shot by two dear and talented souls, Tim Prestoza & Michelle Magnoli. Thank you both for helping take my vision to fruition.
Each look represents a season of her journey, put to words pulled from my reflections during this time. While losing anyone is far from easy, I continue to choose joy, and relish in the fonder and finer memories. That said, not all sentiments here are positive, though the process was incredibly cathartic, and helped to build the foundation for a different perspective, one filled with light and love. This is for you mom ❤
She comes to me in dreams, in my own acts, in sights seen, or smells remembered—the sharp sting of chlorine, hinting a pool is close, once her favorite place. She comes to me in a fleeting glance at a mirror, her eyes once so similar to mine. She comes to me in habits—forever reheating morning coffee, lists abound, hanging swimsuits to dry over the passenger seat, or in bouts of sickly-sweet optimism. She comes to me in a gust of summer wind—dust and oak over dry grass. She comes to me in the crested vistas of a fall walk through the hills, in the smell of damp earth as the sun sets, day giving way to the still grace of night.
Chlorine drenched and sun kissed skin, forever crunchy hair / Sherry in the holiday bread / Always flashing your biggest smile at strangers / Making friends with everyone / Those running shoes you’d leave outside because of the mud / Never being afraid to ask / Your odd affinity for balancing your checkbook / Overwatering all the plants / The glint in your eyes when you were feeling wild
One week you were fine, the next you weren’t, and the following you had cancer. Brain cancer. Stage four. Incurable, but possibly treatable. Those words, sharp in meaning, struck my heart with a blow powered by fear, immense fear. You were supposed to outlive us all, and now you could barely move or speak. I hope you do not feel trapped, please do not feel trapped, do not feel helpless and weak. I can only imagine how much more living you have to do—to do all the things that before you once did not deem important, or that you were too afraid to do. Be open, be free, be passionate, be alive. Now you must face a struggle to respect and bolster with all your might. Emotions wane from profane to positive, to trying to outrun the shadow that cascades across my mind, kept at bay only by the sunshine and your smile. I hope to replace the nights I lay awake, unknowingly composing your eulogy in my mind, to visions of when you were the most you. You weren’t the first, you weren’t the last. You weren’t the best, and you weren’t the worst. But you were mine. My mother. You gave me the greatest gift of all—life. For that I will be forever grateful.
A letter to my mother: Oh courageous, strong woman. What a journey this has been. You fought so valiantly with optimism and strength for 16 months. One week you were fine, the next you weren’t, and the following you had cancer. Stage four.
You were supposed to outlive us all, and now you were to face a most daunting challenge. One that you met with unwavering optimism and strength. It was your positivity and sweet smile that made it bearable for the rest of us, and we are all so fortunate to have been part of your journey.
You picked a beautiful day to leave us, a beautiful day for your spirit to return to the grace that bore you. Your last breath back to the winds that carried your first, and your memory back to the hearts of those who love you.
Though you are no longer with us, you will remain in my heart, always. I love and appreciate you more than you could ever know. For you, I promise to live my life in a way that you did not get the chance to. For you, I will replace the nights I lay awake silently weeping for you, to visions of when you were the most vibrant, savoring your essence and basking in the light that you gave us all.