Debra Swersky
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Journal

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Pictures

We have an electronic picture frame in our bathroom. (You can laugh. It’s a little weird.) To us it makes the most sense. Every morning and every evening we spend at least five minutes of uninterrupted time at our bathroom sink - brushing our teeth, getting ready, washing up, whatever. Why should we limit ourselves to just one picture in a frame when we could have 128 megabytes worth of pictures… on rotation… everyday? (Doesn’t sound so weird now, does it?) On our picture frame we’ve got young grandparent pictures, baby pictures, and those random candid shots. And, of course, several recent photos.

Our frame is on a timer and the pictures are supposed to shuffle, but sometimes they don’t. Oftentimes I’ll see the same pictures for a few days, if I wake up with my alarm. Occasionally I’ll find myself out of sync, a bit delayed, a few minutes early, etc. and catch a glimpse of a photo that I haven’t seen in awhile. Though we’ve curated the memory card, I like some pictures more than others. Sometimes when one of my favorites pops up I want to pause the rotation and take in the moment for a little while longer. But, like the moment when the picture was taken, it’s soon gone. 

One of my favorites is from “the honeymoon that was never going to happen” to Australia and New Zealand. It is one of those “cherish this moment a little while longer” pictures where I actually remember saying to myself “cherish this moment a little while longer” when I took the picture. The picture is of the love of my life… the back of his head. His orange gloved hand is perched on the railing overlooking the harbour. To his right is the Harbour Bridge, to his left the Sydney Opera House. Just over the top of his head, the skyline. The picture captures the essence of Sydney, and the essence of our trip. 

First of all, it was “the honeymoon that was never going to happen.” We had been together for over ten years when we took the trip! Just that, in and of itself, is worthy of pinching yourself. Finally, we had the opportunity to take an extended trip together. Medical school, residency, fellowships, and business school were behind us. The orange gloves? We had searched all over Boston. Tried on hundreds of gloves. Walked into countless stores. And finally found this pair at a small boutique on Tremont Street. They were perfect… and came in orange (when you ordered them online). The Harbor Bridge… the pinnacle of the trip experience for me… representing so much of what had been my life leading up to our adventure. 

But, it’s the vantage point from the railing which afforded us views of the Opera House, Skyline, and Bridge that have recently begun to stir my emotions. We saw the city by every angle on foot. We walked a 70,000 step day that week… it was awesome! Looking back on that picture now, I’m all the more thankful of the epic walks that we took to see the sights around town. Though memorable then, they’re infinitely more memorable now that walking longer distances presents a challenge.

In that same breath, last week a friend of mine sent me a picture from her latest race. She told me she was going to run the race in my honor. I was humbled by the idea of it and wished that I could be there to cheer her on. Before she took off from the starting line she sent me a picture - a full body selfie. On her right leg were two words: “For Deb”... from the color of her race shirt, to her bib number, to the distance she was running, to the emotions tearing through my body. I was speechless… saddened… and then instantly hopeful. I will get back to running again.

A picture is worth 1,000 words… but it’s the 1,000 words you tell yourself when you see the picture that matters. I’m working on telling myself the 1,000 words to keep me hopeful before the moment is gone.

Debra Swersky