By ice rivers
When we moved to Tumbleweed, we had to enroll Mary in a brand new school. She was in third grade and had a broken leg. She arrived in time for school pictures. When the class pictures came out, I noticed this little girl with big glasses. Her name was Ava. I pointed her out to Mary and said "She looks like she'd be a good friend." Sure enough, they became besties and remain so to this day almost 30 years later.
This is the story of Ava's shower
I know this wasn't a dream because when I dream I always try to get the picture but the camera never works.
It was my bridal first shower. My gender had always rendered me ineligible but this shower was co-ed. We were enjoying our drinks and conversation downstairs when I noticed that the main female stars were missing.
Ava was trying on her wedding gown upstairs. I'm not sure who invited me but somehow through the grapevine I came too know that I would be welcome in this room and so would my camera.
This happens often in my dreams but in my dreams, the camera she don't work.
I walked up the stairs and entered the room. I was the only male but everyone seemed to welcome me.
Everyone was admiring Ava in her dress. Ava was radiating joy and reflecting the admiring glances that were coming her way. The dress was perfect. Everybody knew it.
I've been taking Ava's picture ever since she was a little girl. She is the best friend of my youngest daughter. I wanted to get a great picture of Ava at this moment. All of my years of photography had led to this moment. It wasn't gonna come again.
Ava noticed me. She looked into the camera. I snapped. The camera worked.
This was no dream.
Mine wasn't the only camera in the room. Ava seemingly picked up on all of the lenses by not concentrating on any of them but rather enjoying her moment of celebration.
A model of decorum
I got my pictures. Everybody got their pictures. The cameras disappeared. I lingered with my lens.
At that moment, at that second, in about the time it takes a car to swerve a deadly swerve, Ava's expression changed. For an instant memory, vulnerability and pain flashed through her entire being in a collision of joy and pain.
I imagine she was thinking of the older sister who was not in the room. The older sister who ended up on the deadly end of an unsignalled swerve on a dark Halloween night almost 10 years ago. A tragedy that changed everyone.
Suddenly Abby was in the room.
I didn't see Abby but I did see Ava seeing Abby as did my camera.
For one split second grief and recognition flashed across Ava's glowing face. In that split second I had to make the decision whether or not to snap the picture and "capture" this exceedingly private, candid, personal and vulnerable moment.
I was almost certain that the camera was going to malfunction revealing the entire scene as one more dream forever undocumented.
The camera worked.
Ava's expression returned to joy.
A few weeks later, I told Ava about the picture. I told her this story. I told her I wanted to write about it but couldn't do that unless she approved.
She said it would be an honor.
The wedding is this weekend.
This writing and this image is in honor of Ava
and of Abby.