It's an ordinary photograph of an ordinary family. Mother and son, father standing behind them protectively. They all have big beautiful smiles and seem to be very happy. It's a happy occasion and I see real joy on their faces.
I keep staring at it. After a while I close the window on my computer but soon, I go looking for it again and stare some more. The wave of emotions I feel makes me catch my breath every single time. To recover, I check all the details around them. Black linoleum on the floor; sleek countertops with employees at computers; at the customer window on the left, a forlorn looking gentleman with a backwards baseball cap on his head, sitting in a wheelchair staring into space. The young man standing at the window is putting something in his backpack; his jeans are too long and he has folded the hems over, 3 white stripes on his black shoes.The bulletin board has only one white paper pinned on it and there's a red fire extinguisher on the wall. A square, yellow, plastic box holding some pens on the counter doesn't seem to fit in the whole and makes me think of children's crayons for some reason.
All through my observations, my gaze comes back to the family. My eyes tear up, yet I can't help smiling too. I have not met them yet I feel I know them and feel great love towards them. The woman's face glows with joy, her beautiful blue eyes are smiling even more than her mouth. The little boy leaning towards his mother has the sweetest face...I reach to stroke his cheek that has a hint of a dimple on it. I look up at the man behind them and new tears fill my eyes. He smiles yet I see in his eyes what his wife hides so well. There's sadness and worry there along with the joy.
I want to carry them. My heart grows wings and flies into the picture and lifts them up in protective embrace. I want to tell them everything will be all right but I don't know if they'll believe me. This is no ordinary family. This is my friend's sister and her family. The mother has been fighting brain cancer for 2 years now and has suffered through so much with that disease. The devoted father has stood by his wife, looked after her, carried her... They continue to fight. The photograph is snapshot of a moment in their lives when they lived for that moment, for the son, for the great happiness he brings them and they bring him. Cancer be damned, they will live this moment and enjoy it.
My mind goes silent for a minute. I feel a strange connection with them, as if they can sense me, hear me through this photograph. I speak no words but feel my message reach them: I'm here, I see you, I care, I love you.
I save the photograph to look at it again tomorrow.