19 March 2009
On the desk in my office is a photograph of Ocean and me, when O was just eleven months old. It is truly one of my favorite photographs. The woman who snapped it, acclaimed and bestselling author Barbara Parker, did so in a very casual moment at the Miami Book Fair in 2006. We were talking about her new love of photography -- and admiring her new camera. And Kris Montee, half of the bestselling duo that comprises PJ Parrish, raved about some pictures she'd seen. Barbara said, "Let me get a picture of you!" so I grabbed Ocean and she took a picture. I didn't think much about it until I got an email from her a few days later with the image in a jpeg file. It literally took my breath away. For all the professional photographs taken of me and of my daughter, no one ever came close to capturing what she did in that frame. She saw something -- Ocean's cool intelligence, her innocence and beauty, and my pure joy in being her mother. And it's there in both our faces, one moment, totally true. When I got it, I thought: It's because she's a writer. She sees. Her lens allowed her to freeze a moment she witnessed with a writer's clarity. Every time I look at the photograph, I think of Barbara.
I didn't have the pleasure of crossing paths with Barbara again. And yesterday I learned, with great sadness, that she passed away on March 7th after battling a long illness. For many years, I knew of her as a talented and successful writer. And later, as I had the honor of meeting her and occasionally bumping into for one reason or another, I found her to be an unfailingly kind and generous person with great charm and an aura of benevolence. I know she will be deeply mourned and greatly missed by her family and close friends, and also by readers and colleagues like me who admired her, respected her, and were blessed now and then with her company.
I am so glad I have that image she captured, that perfect moment. Seeing it on my desk will remind me of her talent, and inspire me to enjoy those light, happy moments which we sometimes take for granted, and which later become the lasting gift of wonderful memories, long after someone special has left us.
Thank you, Barbara, for sharing your many talents and gifts, you will be sorely missed and remembered with love and admiration.