THERE IS A PHOTOGRAPH OF MY MOTHER THAT NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN:
In the fall, my mother went back to England to start university. Her pockets were full of sand from the lowest place on earth. She weighed 104 pounds. There’s a story she sometimes tells about the train ride from Paddington Station to Oxford when she met a photographer who was almost completely blind. He wore dark sunglasses and said he’d damaged his retinas a decade ago on a trip to Antartica. His suit was perfectly pressed, and he held his camera in his lap. He said he saw the world differently now, and it wasn’t necessarily bad. He asked if he could take a picture of her. When he raised up the lens and looked through it, my mother asked what he saw. “The same thing I always see,” he said. “Which is?” “A blur” he said. “Then why do it?” she asked. “In case my eyes ever heal,” he said. “So I’ll know what I’ve been looking at.” In my mother’s lap was a brown paper bag with a chopped liver sandwich my grandmother had made for her. She offered the sandwich to the almost completely blind photographer. “Aren’t you hungry?” he asked. She told him that she was, but that she’d never told her mother that she hated chooped liver, and eventually it became too late to tell her, having said nothing for years. The train pulled into Oxford Station, and my mother got off, leaving behind her a trail of sand. I know there is a moral to this story, but I don’t know what it is.