Sonia Lising-Cahalan

When I first met Sonia, I was in awe of how many pictures she had of her with her son, Robbie. It made me think two things, one—to jump on a plane and go take more pictures with my mom, and two—how close they must have been. There were so many. I only got to meet Robbie and spend time with him once, but I’ll never forget it. I was at my girlfriend’s house, meeting many of her relatives for the first time; I was nervous, even afraid to go in, but Robbie—her old family friend—immediately made me feel at home. I believe it is always a testament to the parents when their child is as well liked and as friendly as Robbie was.

“The funniest moment I ever encountered was when my children would bicker in front of me,” Sonia says. “It was funny and at the same time made my heart swell with love for both of them. Their jokes, no matter how simple they were, were the funniest to me. They are my personal comedians.”

Last October, Robbie died in a car accident at age 22. When I was thinking of mothers I could give back to for this project, I instantly thought of taking Sonia’s picture. I cannot imagine being a parent and losing your son or daughter, so I wanted to give her back something she could keep forever. I decided to photograph Sonia looking at all her memories and pictures of her and Robbie.

Suggested Next Read

5. The Dirt on Reclaimed Water

Seven Shades of Green

5. The Dirt on Reclaimed Water

By Paul Szydelko

As the first student in the University of California system to receive a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, Dale Devitt knew he was on the forefront of something special in 1972 but didn’t quite know what to do next. Then his adviser invited him to work in his UC Riverside lab studying soil, and as the environmental movement blossomed, Devitt became a scientist specializing in water and soil issues.