I took the first photo of my daughter, Rebecca, moments after she was born on August 3, 2005.
Barely more than 15 years later, I took the last photo of my daughter moments after she died, of cancer, on January 3, 2021.
In the months before she died, Becs had been playing a game on her iPhone – "Sky Children of the Light." She wanted me to join in with her, so I upgraded my ancient iPhone to a newer model. I loved the game and loved playing it with her. As our avatars traveled together, soaring through the clouds and landscapes on a variety of quests, in different realms – which I eventually found out symbolized the different stages of life, from early childhood to death and beyond – she was my guide, my mentor, my teacher. She (her avatar, rather) would hold my hand and lead me everywhere, and that's the way I wanted it.
Throughout her life, I tried to guide and teach her, and now she was doing the same to me. I can't tell if she was seeing this game as a sort of allegory of her own life – even if just on a subconscious level.
The only part of the game she didn't show me was the bit where your character has to die in order to move forward; she said I wasn't ready for it. Did she know she was going to die soon herself? She certainly never talked about it, or asked about it. We had earlier decided we wouldn't tell her unless she specifically asked. How are you supposed to break that news to your child?
To me, the game developed into a metaphor of what would happen once I eventually pass myself – she'll be there waiting for me, to take and hold my hand, act as my guide and guardian, take me where I have to go.
PHOTO EDITING GABRIELLE FONSECA JOHNSON; TEXT EDITING KARI HOWARD; LAYOUT Marika Kochiashvili