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  • Jerri Graham Photography

Daughters

I have a mother I haven't spoken to in almost a decade. I don't state this with joy, but with a bit of sadness and resignation at this truth. She wasn't a good mother because she didn't know how to be, didn't make an effort to change, and is subsequently the same as she ever was. I've always equated trying to have a relationship with her with going to the grounds of Chernobyl and expecting to have a picnic without coming out of it contaminated. She's toxic. I get it. I'm okay with it. And, I don't need to be told that I'll regret it later and that I have to "honor" my mother because she is my mother. Poppycock to that bit of bullshit.

I'm the mother of one and I have taken joy in it from the moment I peed on a pregnancy test from 7-Eleven behind a sand dune in Taiwan (I have no chill). I also watch the world and see what the love of a good mother can do for a person. Love is a foundation to a person. Like with building anything, the foundations are the most important part of the structure.

Since November, I've been taking photos for a campaign to raise awareness for Stage 4 Breast Cancer. During this time, I've had people who have either lost someone, known someone, or have just come out in support of this cause. Many times, I've had sessions that have left me sobbing.

Motherless daughters left to see the world through without their mothers breaks my heart the most. I see my own daughter at 19 and how much she still needs me. I think of my own life and how I've spent a great deal of it trying to figure it out because my mother wasn't really available to me. I cried myself to sleep a couple of nights after a few of the sessions I had with women and a young girl who was now motherless. I thought of all the things her mother wanted to do with her that will never be. The first dates she won't see her off on. The graduations she won't attend. I remembered all of the years I've watched my own daughter grow and I cried for them both.

I heard the story of a family ripped apart, sisters thrown in unfriendly homes where the worst that could happen did. In this beautiful woman with a kick-ass accent who fought against the odds and has come out on top, a little girl who was left motherless by a disease that has no cure. Then there were the wounds of loss that were older, but still so fresh. Decades may have passed, but it still hurts and is raw.

My mothering isn't over yet. I have another 70 or 80 years to go (I'm going to be a cyborg). I will continue to love the moments that I'm together with my daughter and appreciate this time because it is not afforded to everyone. Now, I'm going to go make my offspring some breakfast because I'm feeling all emotional and she benefits from my tears


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