My 4 1/2-year-old daughter wore this exact same dress yesterday, a fact I realized just now as I was searching for a completely different picture in iPhoto. I know it's rather morbid to admit, but I keep dreading the day when the "last 12 months" button will no longer render any photos of my mother. Thank God that day is not today.
Today, as I filtered the visual library of my life, Mami's in the very first photo, from this same weekend last year. She was gaunt, and she had made an extraordinary effort to simply come down the stairs to participate in the family get together at my sister Diana's house.
Clad in her illness uniform -- undershirt, pajamas, housecoat -- she didn't seem to mind the camera snapping pictures. Obviously, my heart and mind must've been somewhere else, because this is a pretty damn awful shot, but it does not matter. There she is, sitting between her two youngest granddaughters, trying to keep my niece from squirming away. The time for fixing herself up for a photo (when she was healthy, she would not even allow herself to be photographed without makeup or with her glasses on) had long passed, and she was simply happy to be surrounded by her adored and adoring grandbabies.
One year later, D still fits into that pink Baby Lulu dress, my niece is still a wriggly little thing at 2 1/2, but their Abuela, she is gone. As my good friend Jean expressed in the final lines of her beautiful post about photographs of her father, these girls may not remember their Abuela's face or voice or the everyday impact she had on their earliest years, but they will always have these photos, this history. A history my siblings and I will make sure our children never forget.