Way back in 2005 when I was diagnosed with stage 1 colorectal cancer, we didn‘t have smart phone cameras to capture every image nor did we have social media to document my treatment. I was still shooting on film! I never knew if my images were going to turn out as I’d hoped until I had taken them to a film lab, waited a couple of days, then payed for my prints. I would open the print envelope with great anticipation—would my photos turn out beautifully or would they disappoint?

My experience of the cancer imaging was similar. Each time, we held our breath—would it be good news or not? Fortunately, following the initial diagnosis, each imaging procedure gave us more reasons to hope. I finished up treatment and we celebrated as we always do, with a trip. This is one of just two photos of me during this time, taken at a riverside restaurant in San Antonio. My twin girls were barely two, but were perfect traveling companions. This trip will go down in my memory as a precious and restorative few days. Days when our life went back to normal. Remembering our walks along the river, I am hard-pressed to describe the feelings of gratitude, peace, and hope.

Our whole world is coming out of a year of sickness. And our back to normal in America has been anything but the aforementioned emotions. Instead, we have turned to our typical violent means of expressing ourselves. Indeed, we had never truly surrendered them, but we were forced into a break.

I don’t know how you are handling 2021 or how you are still reeling from 2020. My hopes have been quickly dashed and I return to dreams of moving to another country, as if that could solve all my problems. Those baby girls in the photo are just opening their wings and leaving the safety of our nest. I sit here in nervous anticipation, waiting for future images, hoping that they will be full of joy, love, and big dreams.

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