December 21st, 2020

In the social media app Snapchat, what you send disappears after it’s been opened. Like the top-secret messages that self-destruct after reading in Mission: Impossible.

There is a loophole, though. You can save a screenshot of anything you can see on your phone, including in Snapchat.

And that’s what my mom did.

It didn’t matter what was sent.

“Good morning, mom!”

*Mom took a screenshot!*

A photo of Marvel.

*Mom took a screenshot!*

Something I sketched.

*Mom took a screenshot!*

A meme my mom most certainly did not understand.

*Mom took a screenshot!*

It was something we joked about and sometimes really wondered about — why would she feel the need to save everything, every word, every image, every piece of our lives?

And then you start making connections.

She saved it all. Before Snapchat. All my old artwork, that I desperately wanted to throw away because it was so embarrassing, she held onto like precious silks. She filed my young words like it was work in the Library of Congress. I remember I wrote a paper for psychology about how I was equal parts her and my dad, and she shed real tears when we tore the house apart looking for it.

And it wasn’t just me.

It was our entire family. She kept any parts of us we allowed ourselves to shed, and she held them close while admiring what came out of the cocoons. She took pictures all the time, before it was easy to take pictures. As her life is being looked through now, there are a ton of photos and recipes and things we didn’t know she screenshot but she did. My dad told me that on those empty pages at the end of books, she filled them up with her handwriting.

And I’m ashamed I was ever annoyed by a single screenshot, because I would do pretty much anything to be notified of that one more time. I would give anything to see her save a part of me.

My mom taught me that saving things is a way we can save ourselves.

I’m trying hard, I swear.


Published by dennisvogen

I'm me, of course. Or am I?

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