Dear World,

I know COVID-19 has been devastating to so many, but I can’t help but feel blessed to have this special time with my kids that I thought was forever gone.


I start my day at 4:30 a.m., get my coffee brewing, and sit at my kitchen table to start my day writing news stories from home. As the morning progresses, I hear movement upstairs as my kids start to wake and start their school day from home. At some point I hear my son playing his trumpet directly above me in his bedroom, recording his assignment for high school band. My daughter drifts into the kitchen for breakfast as she takes a break from her online college course work.

And I stop to pinch myself. I’ve been pinching myself for the past month and I’m not eager to have it stop anytime soon.

I’ve been a single mom for the past 17 years. My kids are my everything. It’s hard to remember what life was like before it was the three of us against the world.

But as they grow older, the time we get to spend together is beginning to disappear. I know that’s part of their natural progression in life, but I still long for those days of the three desperados.

It’s been four years since I’ve had everyone underfoot in the house. Four years since we’ve regularly eaten dinner as a trio in the living room, sharing conversation. Four years since we’ve sang our silly made-up songs in tandem. Four years since the three of us have danced together in the kitchen.

I know COVID-19 has been devastating to so many, but I can’t help but feel blessed to have this special time with my kids that I thought was forever gone.


Guilty Nirvana

Support this photographer: Greta Cross ︎  @gretacrossphoto ︎ Venmo


About the photographer: Greta Cross (b. 1999) was born and raised in the small, rural town of Mokane, Missouri. Greta currently attends Missouri State University, where she is studying journalism, photography and anthropology. Greta has worked as a photojournalist for The Standard, Missouri State University’s independent, student-led newspaper and the Jefferson City News Tribune. Recently, she received several Missouri College Media Association awards for her photography and written journalism.

About the process: 48 hours to create a piece of art is a tight deadline. I utilized my subject -- my mom -- and my younger brother to brainstorm ideas and help set up equipment during the photoshoot.

We started outside, in our front yard, with my mom’s hands on her hips, as my brother and I sat up on the steps behind her. Initially, I wanted to include my brother and myself in the portrait to represent the state of “nirvana” my mom has been feeling the last month and a half. But I wasn’t “wow-ed” by any of the portraits I was creating, with my camera set up on a tripod in front of my mom, me running back and forth to start the self-timer and jump in the photo.

Eventually, we moved inside to the living room couch. I took a few test shots with my mom and brother sitting next to each other, the living room in a typical family-home mess. I decided to clean up the area, push a chair out of the way, remove the blankets and pillows from the couch and lose the TV remotes in frame. However, the scene felt too sterile. It didn’t feel real, it didn’t feel like home.

So, we piled the blankets back onto the couch, arranged the rocking chair back into frame and our family cat decided to lay at our feet as I once again, ran between setting the self-timer and hopping onto the couch beside my mom and brother.

Despite my brother and me wearing matching black shirts and blue jeans, the portrait still wasn’t where I wanted it.

I asked my brother to step aside and I snapped a few photos of my mom sitting on our big family couch alone, looking straight into the camera lens. That’s when I knew it was it.

My mom’s “guilty nirvana” may be having all of us together, under the same roof again. But, capturing her alone, as she’s felt over the last few years as my brother and I grow up felt more impactful to me.

A note to my mom: Mom, thank you for always supporting my creative projects, especially those I ask you to be a part of. Thank you for motivating me to be my best, creating a safe and positive environment for me to produce art in and being my biggest fan. I love you.


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