When I was six, my family was driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark.
For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.
I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own.
Today we return to First Friday Photo /, Eden Mabee’s nifty once-a-month blog hop that encourages us to share an image (or more), on the first Friday of each month. So sit back, sip, and let me tell you what’s on my mind, today…
What pictures do you must treasure?
Why are they important to you?
This image of Elijah James, our second child, is one of my most treasured, because I can never take another picture like it. That’s true for every baby, every person, really – we’re never exactly the same, from one moment to the next, after all. But we’re so used to that, we scarcely even think about it as we go about our lives.
But, with Elijah, there are no more chances for any pictures.
This image was taken on July 21, 2003. Four days later, he died.
Elijah was twelve days old, and lived his entire life in the NICU of a hospital an hour from our home.
This makes every image of him, every memento, every memory, more precious – because they’re finite in a very definite way. Not only did his infancy disappear; his life did. All the potential he held within him, anything he might have been or done or said, was irretrievably lost on a Friday afternoon in late July.
But I have memories, and images, and the intention not to let him slip unremembered into the mists of time…
Which has led me to play with this image, and memorialize our Tiny Tiger in various ways, such as this edit…
The quote is from a poem I wrote for Elijah during OctPoWriMo. com/ I also wrote poems for his two living siblings, who have grown and changed with the years….but Elijah’s is the one that most tugs at my heart, and which I remember, each July 13- 25, which will forever be Elijah’s Days in my mind – the twelve days that encompassed his entire life.
Here’s the poem in its entirety…
Soul to Soul
Twelve days makes a very short lifetime –
So very much I never knew
About who you might have been.
A brief little blip, like the ones on the monitors
That measured the breaths and beats of your life.
Made less by that robber-baron, coma.
So very much of your life taken
From you, even while you still lived
Leaving a half-death that we couldn’t share.
But before we knew, and grieved,
On the night of your birth, when still
There was hope…
That night, as soon as I could,
I came to you, and pulled myself up
To see your face for the first time.
Your gaze found mine, instantly
You knew the sound of my voice,
And so you watched me.
Soul to soul, mother and son
Everything else faded out, and away
And there was only us.
You met my eyes as an equal
As though you knew you could not stay,
And had long since accepted what I could not.
Peace and wisdom met me, embraced me
In the way I longed to hold you
You settled into my being, my son.
You seemed to be saying that
All was as it was meant to be
Leaving me only to accept.
I looked and looked
And, in that shared gaze
A lifetime of knowing was held.
The next day those wise eyes
Drooped, then closed
And did not open again.
It’s both solace and sorrow, to revisit these images of a child now nearly twelve years gone – a child whose lifespan was only twelve days long. It reminds me of my most shattering loss – and makes an indelible statement about what’s important, and why. Because of Elijah, we live in a way we might not, without him. Because of him, I don’t take my loved ones for granted; I know, every moment, that life is finite – not just for him, but for every one of us…
This last image was taken on the day Elijah would have been three years old. I love this one because it holds the potential for joy, and play, and all that life can offer…the kids and I had just taken letters and pictures to Elijah’s tree in the front yard, to read to him. Then, it was time for Cozy Coupe calamities and the stuff of living-little-kidness…which, so often, is the best balm…
Do you have a favorite image of a loved one lost, or one who isn’t?
One that reminds you that life and death, joy and sorrow,
are inextricably bound up in one another?
I’d love to chat about it; I find that talking and sharing help.
Let me refill our cups, while you tell a story…
Have something to share for First Friday Photo?
Click the little linky guy and hop right in.