The photos taken during end of life sessions, during the decision making, during the goodbyes, during the memorials, during the moments of stillness, emptiness, and tears filled with eternal ache, are so, so important.
When those photos are shared by bereaved parents, it is an honor. Do not look away in your fear of mortality. Look closely. Acknowledge the pain it makes you feel. The discomfort you fight. Consider that it is only a sliver of the agony that bereaved parent feels.
I have 7 months worth of photos from three years ago, that contain these pudgy legs and glistening amber brown eyes. I don’t have photos of the torturous 6 hours I last held him, on July 3rd 2017. The entire experience lives only in our memory, our words, our flashbacks.
There is no tangible visible evidence of the hours in which our world caved in. There are no photos of my tears spilling onto his face, or my hand trying desperately to soften his stiffened fingers in mine. There are no photos of his brother kissing him goodbye. No photos of my dad crouched over me as my guttural sobs were emptied into my sons still chest. No photos of my mother standing with the chaplains, doing the work I couldn’t bear, and making the plans we couldn’t fathom.
There are no photos of the moment my husband and I handed his body to someone who would carry him out of our home forever. But god do I wish there were. I would revisit that horrific, tragic, beautiful imagery infinitely just to feel the closeness of the last time his weight filled our arms.