When I went home to Florida last weekend, I thought a lot about Mark Twain and his views on living in real time. Before his famed titles The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Twain was a travel writer, but instead of recording what happened as it happened, he wrote later. “I would not have fooled away any of it writing letters,” is what he penned during a journey to Hawaii.
I’m a bona fide shutterbug – I see life in photographs – but this trip was different. I found out Mishka, the woman who taught me to sew, the woman who has ripped out so many of my sleeves and the woman who calls me her second daughter, has cancer. My priorities changed when I saw how cancer and chemotherapy devastated my mom’s body and took her life, and it happened again this weekend when I heard Mishka is sick. Once again, I realized that life is too short and can be cruel. I only want to surround myself with the people and the things that matter. Sewing is one of them, and my family, Mishka included, is another. Despite the torment she is going through, one thing has remained unchanged – her spirit and courage. She still goes to the shop ever morning, bald, to sew. Isn’t that incredible?
So this weekend, I broke away from our reportorial obsession to capture this very moment. The only moments I photographed where the ones I was specifically asked to – my brother’s 29th birthday party, dubbed Jamesapalooza. The rest of the time, I did exactly what Mathew McConaughey said to do, “L-I-V-I-N.”