Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The photograph of Charlotte that you see on the sidebar that is one of the most beautiful we have of our family, our trinity. We only have two photos of Greg holding her, and there is something about the way the three of us are wrapped around each other that seems so circular and whole. The raw emotion that this photo evokes has always left me breathless. In the beginning it was every time I looked at it, but now, as it hangs in three rooms in my house and is part of the fabric of my being, it is when I sit down and try to process it with myself, my amnesic self who lives in another nation now: this was you, you and your beloved, you are young and in your twenties, and you are cradling your firstborn, dead child. This fact still sends me reeling. (will it ever seem real?)
Charlotte looks so beautiful to me in this photo. To me it's the one that looks most like how I remember her, the delicacy of her little features, the chiseled beauty of her face. It's the one I always think of when I am realizing how similar all my children look to one another.

But there's one thing that's always bothered me about it, that I've felt a little self conscious about. I've always stated that Charlotte looked just like she was sleeping. But in this photo, she has her mouth open, and none of my babies ever did sleep with their mouths open. So I would wonder to myself, maybe this looks odd to other people: maybe she doesn't just look like she's asleep to them. I desperately want her photos to look like she's sleeping, it's as if I can seize her as living for just a moment if I imagine that somebody might look at her photo and not be sure whether she was a living baby or not. But for that mouth, that mouth.

And then came Maeve, my fourth living child, my fourth daughter, my little wisp of beauty that shares the same chisled face with her sisters and brother and always, always sleeps with her mouth hanging open, just like Charlotte in that photo.

Thank you, Maeve, for connecting me just one more time with my little first born. Thank you for making her look like any other sleeping baby in my favorite ever photo of her beauty, captured forever in black and white, seared into my heart.


Hope's Mama said...

I feel exactly the same way about the photos we have of Simon holding Hope (and we only have a couple as well). Lots of the photos we have of Hope, I have my finger on her chin, keeping her little mouth shut. To me, it was one of the most traumatic and upsetting things about the whole experience. Because try as we might to pretend she was just a sleeping baby, it was so painfully obvious in so many ways that she wasn't. Her little mouth hanging open, with tiny bits of dried blood around the edges, was just so heartbreaking. I just wanted to breathe life back in to her.
I'm so glad Maeve is giving you glimpses of your first born. I hope this new little baby of mine can do the same for me.

Erika P said...

That photo of the three of you always grips my heart, too, and it stopped Tim in his tracks the first time he walked into your house. I regret that we don't have any pictures of him holding Sierra. (Although I do have one mental image of it that will always be with me - she was so small he just cradled her in his cupped hands and rocked her a little, and it was so sweet and so heartbreaking all at once.)

But back to your picture... One of the reasons I find it so moving is that, in that photo, Charlotte has always looked to me as if she's just sleeping, and I want so desperately for her to wake up.

And Maeve is just gorgeous, and I'm also glad she has given you another glimpse of sweet Charlotte.