This photograph is on display at the International Center of Photography in New York, as part of their exhibit, #ICPConcerned: Global Images for Global Crisis. Visit them at

The photograph was taken in Langley, BC, Canada on August 13, 2020. My husband’s mother, in a dementia care home. It was her 89th birthday. This was our family party. Our temperatures were normal. Still, I don’t know what I’m seeing, unsure what I’m hearing.

I baked a sachertorte, one of her favourites. My husband took two slices in to the visiting room. My daughter and I are in the parking lot with our slices. We sit under a tarp on hard chairs placed outside the visiting room window. There’s no opening.

Can you communicate through a closed window? We try singing happy birthday through our phones. Can anyone hear it? It’s hot. The blue tarp flaps in a breeze. Light, shadow, reflections – all blinding.

My daughter tries to show photos on her phone by holding it against the glass.

The sun dances off a fork.

Thirty scheduled minutes and it’s over.

When you read this, I’ll still be waiting for the heartbreak to pass, trying to find some meaning.

If you ask me how my visit was, I’ll tell you it was ok. Because I’m learning how to lie.