Smile For The Camera

Last night, my mother commented on a framed photograph of the two us she'd put on the side table in the living room. I have blond highlights in my hair, we're both wearing white shirts, it's the early 2000s. We smile for the camera. My father is alive; he is taking the picture. She said I don't smile like that anymore. I said what seemed obvious, that the photo was taken before everything fell apart and we lost so much, but pointed out that I smile and laugh with her all the time. It's true, though--my smile is different just like my life is different. The life we had in that photograph, the happiness we shared, is gone now, lost forever no matter how much I ache to recapture it. I can't smile like I did in my early teens. I have this smile and it will change in the years to come just as I am changing. What I didn't tell my mother is that she's changed, too. I remember her as carefree and outgoing. Tragedy has altered her. What I also didn't say is that I miss who she was. I miss who I was. I miss who we were before the catastrophe of my father's death.