À fleur de peau
That is a French expression that means ‘close to the skin’; it means that you are sensitive. I took this picture after seeing the picture of Aylan Kurdi, after reacting to seeing his face in the sand and wondering how he could breathe like that, after hiding in the bathroom at work to cry. It’s a terrible thing to witness something so horrible and to feel so fucking helpless. Powerless. I cried from sadness and pain, from a mother’s standpoint, from a human’s standpoint. I remember being so angry after Obama made a plea to react to Al-Assad using chemical weapons on his own people and it fell on deaf ears. If the president of one of the most powerful countries on the planet cannot make people react, how can we hope to have an impact? Can we do something? We can vote. We can let that be our voice. We can make sure this sentiment lasts more than a couple of days. We can let this tragedy become the line drawn in the sand. No more.
I had another portrait planned for today. But I feel things strongly. I couldn’t pretend that this didn’t happen. That I wasn’t doubled over with sadness. That I hadn’t cried for them, because I did. I do. My husband knows that I sometimes don’t listen to the news because I know will be affected by what I see. It’s a way of protecting myself. When I told him I hadn’t been able not to see the photo, he said : ‘you have to cry. That is that image of the failure of our humanity.’ It all becomes too much. I cried for the children killed at Beslan in 2004 like they were my own. I cried when I saw Martin Richard’s smiling face. I cried for the woman whose child escaped her attention for just those few little seconds and whose body was found the next day. I feel people’s distress because I can see how little it would take for it to be my own.