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.