I wonder what this little girl was thinking.
Why did she look so forlorn?
Oh, she was a sassy, spoiled kid. She hated having her photographs taken by doting parents.
But what if, somehow, she knew then what she knows now?
Did she know that she’d fall in love in high school? That she’d leave the love of her life almost a decade later, because she was too young to get married and wanted to find herself?
Did she know she’d have an amazing but financially troubled career as a writer? That she’d follow her heart’s passion at whatever cost, that she’d make people laugh, cry, think, that she’d help friends and foes, that she’d sometimes write words to blind eyes and speak words to deaf ears?
Did she know that one of her lovers would rape her?
Did she know she’d get pregnant in her forties and lose that child?
Did she know she’d become a mother to her own parents, that she’d have to give up everything in her life to take care of them and put them in hospice less than a year after losing that child?
Because if she did, if she could foresee, a tiny glimpse, an oracle in a little body wearing a colorful frilly dress, then I can now understand the expression on her face, that beautiful face, still so fresh, young and promising.
The decades have somehow spared me of wrinkles, but she’s not, of course, what I see in the mirror now.
But I see her clearly in my heart. Her sorrows, her fears, her joys and dreams are all imprinted in that invisible mirror inside, that photograph you cannot see, yet you know indelibly.
And she still wonders: what’s going to happen?
I want to change this face.
After a moment of passion, some lovers have said to me: “Maria, that smile.”
There he is, lying on top of me. He’s still inside of me. We’re sweaty. We’re spent. His eyes gaze into mine while I am beaming, my body floating in plenitude while muscles quivering.
That smile is a gift to the world and to myself, not just to any man who is my lover. It is a smile of gratitude, of pleasure, of joy in being embraced. That smile is the gift of love and compassion. That smile is everything that comes from my heart to everyone I have ever loved and supported in any way. I even bequeath that smile to those who have judged me.
Fret no more, little girl.
You know why you haven't got crows feet around your big blue eyes, child? Because you haven't smiled enough.
And as I help my parents end their lives -- it was their passionate sexual embrace that brought me into this world, after all -- I’m going to bring a very mindful and heartfelt smile back to your beautiful face.