The photo is an artifact, taken with a Minolta Maxxum 7000i. Printed on Kodak paper, processed at a drug store, it is a relic from the pre-digital era – my personal pre-digital era – snapped in late July 2001, halfway between a death and a birth.
It’s a profile of my wife Jane, standing near the edge of a steep green-brown hill overlooking the Pacific, somewhere south of Point Reyes. Her arms are crossed over her pink pregnant midsection, and she looks beautiful and reflective, staring out at the sea and a white bank of fog.
The picture captures her in the moment as she contemplates an unknown future and a recent heartbreaking past.
We were in California for her mother’s funeral. Margaret died before we could get there. The service was beautiful and we learned things about my mother-in-law that we never knew. For example, she’d lost a child before giving birth to Jane. We knew she’d lost an infant son years earlier, before leaving Malta. But we never heard about the other child.
Jane was not yet six months pregnant when this picture was taken. She couldn’t really know at that moment above the Pacific that our son would be born in about a week. This picture turned up recently in a box of prints, and I’d forgotten how much I love it, this shot of my wife poised between heartbreak and hope, preserved in the journey.