The Girl In the Picture

This photograph I find in my scattered mess of pictures causes a quiet gasp to escape me.

I have not seen this one in many years.

I don’t often physically hold photos in my hand anymore.  The photos in my home are encased in a frame or in an album that’s rarely opened. Some stay in a pile because there is no other place for them.

Each photo pulls on a different heart string.  Some make us laugh, some make us cry.  And some just make us realize how fleeting this life is.

But every photo has something in common.  Each one is a snapshot of a split second that has been captured forever.

This photo I’ve found today stands out from the rest in my pile.  It’s crinkly and peeling in places. I run my finger across the image, as though touching it will pull it from the thin paper and bring it to life.

There’s a little girl in the picture whom I recognize. She’s about ten years old here, a beaming smile across her genuinely happy looking face. Her head is leaning to the side, a gesture of her innocent nature. She is holding a baby bird in her cupped hands. It’s covered in a downy fur, its neck outstretched and its mouth wide open for food.

I remember this little girl well now. As she grew older, all the things that mattered to her the most became less and less important. They took a backseat to life, to the chaos around her, to all the things that were slowly chipping away at her childlike innocence and goodness.

Fear began to replace anticipation. Doubt began to replace hope. Tears began to replace laughter. Seriousness began to replace lightheartedness.

Darkness replaced light.

I hold the picture, feeling sad for the girl who lost her way in a world that did not quite turn out the way she thought it would.

I give her one last look – her easy eyes, her sun-kissed skin, the young bird she likely watched fly free from her hands – and I tuck the photo deep into the pile that has become a reminder of things passed.

A feeling of determination stirs inside me, and I decide then that I need to find my way back to that little girl, who is now surely a woman.

And that woman is me.

Although not always a simple journey, you too can discover that you still are the same person you once were,

no matter all you’ve gone through.

The child in all of us still exists.

~ Jackie

Love In Small Packages

I awake with a feeling of heaviness inside me. As the day goes on, and I go through the motions, I’m overcome with a feeling that I don’t easily recognize.  Perhaps it’s a feeling of frustration.  Or maybe it’s boredom. Or maybe, just maybe – and I push the thought as far away from my mind as possible – it’s a feeling of wishing I had just a little more in this life.

Lost in far away thoughts, I sit on my deck while my son makes his way around our front and back yard.

“Mommy!  Mommy!” I’m startled when suddenly he is at my side.

I’m careful to change my expression. For his sake, I return myself to the present. His soft, dirty – blonde hair is messy from just having returned inside, and his blue eyes are wide with excitement.

I smile and ask him excitedly, “What is it?”

He slips three little fingers around my hand and tugs at me. “Come outside! Sumping ‘portant!”

I follow his pull towards the door.

“The mail came, it’s very ‘portant,” he continues.

Together, we rush down the steep driveway. We squint our eyes under the bright sunlight. With each hurried step, I hear his bare feet slapping loudly against the pavement.  I glance down at our intertwined hands.

We reach the mailbox.  His face is very serious now.

“Hurry, open it. It’s for you, Mommy,” he tells me quietly.

I open up the door to the mailbox and peer inside.  I see something towards the very back and reach inside.  Before I can utter a word, his smile is as wide and alive as as his eyes. Almost bashfully, his soft hands come up to cover his mouth and muffle his giggles.

“They’re for you, Mommy.”

I get down on one knee and meet him eye to eye, knowing this is a moment I don’t ever want to forget. I grip the bouquet of dead grass, dandelions, and weeds with small purple flowers, and I bring them up to my nose. I take in the scent, and I hold it in for as long as I can.

“Thank you so much.” I am careful to keep my tears hidden from him.

I recognize now what I had been feeling just minutes before – a feeling of ingratitude. I am so ashamed of myself.

I rub my little boy’s messy hair back from his face, and I give him a soft kiss on his forehead. I stand up, take his hand, and together we walk back towards our home.

It’s a beautiful day, I think to myself.

My silly little boy, around the same age as when he presented me with one of many gifts of love I’ll never forget.  I’ve learned that the small ways my two children show me each day just how much they love me are the moments that bring me the most joy in life…

Under This Tree

Under this tree, beneath the tall and extended branches, so very thick with leaves, I stand here alone.

I am hidden from the sun, and I melt away into the shadows cast over me.

Sometimes I can feel the other children looking at me.  I can hear them whispering.

Under this tree, I turn away from them.  I run my fingers down the deep grooves of the bark, slowly and intently.  I tiptoe in circles, balancing myself on top of the outstretched roots that rise in and out of the soil. I wrap my arms around the thick, coarse trunk, but my hands don’t even meet halfway.

Under this tree, time passes ever so slowly. Day after day, the other children run past me, laughing and shrieking, exploring parts of the playground which I’ve never even been to.

Days go by, and every day the air grows a bit colder.  And when the leaves begin to change from a rich green to the shades of the autumn rainbow, I am relieved.

Days go by, and the thick ice atop the branches weighs them ever so slightly closer to earth.  I can no longer find the roots to dance on as they are hidden beneath crunchy snow.

I am so very cold.

Days go by. Finally, the sun returns, and I welcome the warmth on my face.

I am relieved.

I wonder now why the other children still have not found me.

Have they been looking for me, wanting me to join in their games? But how could they see me underneath this tree?

For a moment, I think about calling out.  I imagine myself waving, seeking their attention.  I want to play, I think.

But instead, I turn away.

When the school year comes to an end, and my days on this playground are over, I am relieved.

Because under this tree –  my protector, my only friend – I have survived.

Written from the perspective of a child who is lonely, bullied, or different.  May it serve as a reminder for us and our children to pay attention to those around us, say hello, and include others.  Our simple display of kindness can impact the life of another in a very big way.

Into Words


…while awake, the lens of my mind focuses, capturing images in all the places I exist, where moments, feelings, sounds, and words become snapshots which sit quietly in my mind, until each image grows into a splinter that prods, pierces, pleads, twists, until at last drips down, from my mind, through my heart, into my hand, onto paper, translated into a voice of its own, freeing my mind, for now, til I find myself awake once again…

for myself and anyone else who feels the need to write – no matter what we may feel the need to say, no matter who or who may not read it, or how insignificant it may seem….just write…what a wonderful way to give the snapshots of our lives meaning…

Silent Words

I lie here



Eight hands join

A circle surrounds me

Broken spirits

Tears fall

Faces twist

Cries escape

Don’t weep for me,  I say

They cannot hear me…

There’s no pain for me, I say

They cannot hear me…

Hands grip hands

Eight eyes rise

Towards the sky

Give us strength, they beg

Cries cease

Silence at last

You are strong, I say

They cannot hear me…

My dear daughters

You are my pride, I say

They cannot hear me…

We love you, mommy

They say to me

We have to leave

From aching hearts

Cries come again

One by one

Four sets of lips

Four sets of tears

Meet my cheek


Lying here

I am at peace

My sweet girls

Your broken spirits, I cannot mend

In life

In death

I will never leave you

But they cannot hear me…


They will know

They will Always feel me…

My three sisters and I said our last goodbye to our Mother at the funeral home.  Days later we attended her memorial service.  As painful as an experience it was in those final moments we said our goodbyes, it was also very beautiful. I will never forget.

Climbing Tree

To touch the sky

From a tree so high

As a bird

Must dare to fly

Gone from here

No place near

Spread my wings

Farewell to fear

It’s time I go

Will they know?

Miss me, yes

Or miss me, no


As a child, I spent hours playing in a tree in my front yard, hoping to reach the top and beyond…


The July sun is piercing through Dean’s helmet, jersey, his pads, and onto his clammy skin.  But he and the other boys know better then to complain.  They understand it is one of the things they must endure as football players.  Eighth grade is on the horizon.  And big boys don’t whine.

Dean can barely stand this very moment.  He feels the anger rising in him with each play the coaches call during this scrimmage.  I can’t do it, he thinks to himself.  He’d missed a few tackles, the players seemingly vanishing into thin air as he dove towards them.  Some of his teammates had thrown up their hands in frustration, but then quickly told him, “It’s all right, dude.”

The whistle blows and the boys finally have a moment to remove the heavy helmets from their sopping heads.  They form a crowd as they hover in the sea of water jugs that are baking in the hot sun.  Most of them are talking, laughing, joking around. Dean guzzles his water and lowers his head.  With his jug in one hand and helmet in the other,  he  trudges over to an empty spot in the grass and sits down.

He’s used to being alone. He never has quite fit in with the other boys on the team, or even the ones at school.  I’m different, he replays in his head day after day.  Over the years, his fear and frustration have grown into anger.

Coach P removes his sunglasses to wipe his face down with his shirt so he can keep an eye on his boys.  He spots Dean sitting by himself.  He’s seen this posture and this expression on a player before. It’s the look of a boy who is defeated.

He waits for the others to finish guzzling their water, some even pouring it on their heads, allowing it to drip down the backs of their neck and beneath their heavy pads. When the other coach blows the whistle, the helmets go on, and practice resumes on the field.

He makes his way to the boy, standing far enough away, but close enough where he can speak quietly to him.

“What’s up, man?” He asks.

Dean’s hands are trembling and he’s gazing downward.  His knees are pulled into his chest and he’s pulling chunks of grass from the ground and tossing them at his side.  When he blinks, a single tear falls from one eye, joining the sweat that has pooled on his face.

“Nothin…” Dean growls.

“You gonna go back out there, man?”  Coach P asks him, keeping his voice lighthearted.

Dean doesn’t  look up.  He clutches his knees a little closer to his chest and rocks himself.

After a moment, he says, “I’ve got… I’ve got…anger issues….”  Another tear comes down his cheek.  This time he reaches up and wipes it from his face.

Coach P kneels down, close enough to be eye to eye. “You’ve got anger issues, huh?”  he says, hoping the boy can see his smile from the corner of his wet eye.

Dean nods his head.

” Yeah, I had those too when I was your age… ” Coach P remembers aloud. “Got me in some trouble…”

Dean doesn’t look up.

He leans in a little closer to the boy. “So, if I tell you to get out on that field and crush and tackle, you’re gonna be able to do it then, right?”

Dean freezes.  He had not expected this. He thought surely he’d be ignored, or even scolded for not being out on the field.  Instead, he was understood. His shoulders soften and he turns his head so he can see his coach. The tears stop coming from his eyes. A slight smile comes across his face.

“Yeah,” he responds, squinting underneath the sun.

“Well,” Coach P says, pointing over to the field.  “Get on out there and show me what you got.”

Dean sits there quietly for just a moment, absorbing what his coach is trying to tell him. Then he picks himself up off the ground and places his helmet over his head.

After a moment, he says, “Thanks.”

Coach P nods and slaps him on his shoulder.

Dean turns away from him and jogs off, joining his teammates, taking his position to finish the game he’d started.

                 My husband is a football coach and this is an experience he shared with me (names are changed).  One of his players wanted to give up because of difficulty controlling his anger, but my husband took a moment to understand. He helped him learn how to channel his emotions in a positive way.  Since this day, the boy has become more dedicated and driven.  I believe we can all somehow make a difference in the life of another person, even if it is just in a small way.  One conversation, one sentence, one word – all of these things have an impact on those around us.  

Good Shoes

She just wants nice shoes.  Black, size 8, and pretty.  That’s all she wants.

“Nice shoes for church this  Easter Sunday,” she tells her husband.

So out he goes, stopping at the first shoe store in town he sees.  This one has red for sale signs in the windows.  He walks up and down the aisles of tall shelves lined with boxes until he finds her size.  The women around him are standing before the mirrors, looking down at the reflections of their outstretched feet. He pardons himself as he walks between them and their mirrors.

It doesn’t take long before he finds what seems like the perfect pair.  He carries the box over to the counter.  “I wish my husband would shoe shop for me,” says the friendly woman at the register. “What a lucky lady!”

He nods shyly, thanks her and leaves the store.

When he gets home, his wife is sitting in her wheelchair, just as she was when he’d left her.  Pillows propped on each side of her body help to keep her upright. She asks if he’d had any trouble. “No, and they were cheap too,”  he says with a smirk.

As he takes them out of the box, he reminds her that they aren’t anything fancy. She waves her hand at him, telling him he knows she doesn’t care about those sorts of things.  He opens up the box and spreads the white tissue paper apart like a curtain, revealing a surprise. He pulls out just one black dress shoe, smooth and shiny with a flat heel, and slightly pointed in the front. She smiles and tells him they’re great.

He kneels down uncomfortably on one knee before her. He lifts one of her thin – but very heavy – calves toward him.   While holding her heel with one hand, he uses his other hand to gently rock the new shoe back and forth until it finally comes to rest over her hard, still foot.  She smiles, and he hears relief in her voice when she says it fits.

He stands up and looks her over. She’s trying to turn her foot towards her eyes –  just like the women in the store were.  But she can’t.  And, unlike those worn by the women in the store, he knows that these shoes his wife is wearing will never even touch the ground.

“I can’t wait until Sunday,” she says, her eyes on her new shoe.

“I know,” he says thoughtfully as he collects the tissue paper and box.  “It’ll be a good day…”

A moment in time between my Mother and Father, teenage sweethearts. My Mother passed away from complications from Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at the age of 46. My Father was her full-time caregiver, as her illness robbed her of the ability to walk or care for herself at all. The love between them was extraordinary and rare.