This past season on Grey’s Anatomy there was a storyline about a baby, who was born premature, dying. The baby’s mother had the opportunity to hold her son, watch him and wait for him to take his last breath.
As Bob and I watched that scene together I got choked up thinking about and remembering our experience with our daughter Molly. It was so bittersweet to have that time with our baby girl after she was born and then to be told less than 15 minutes later “she’s gone.” But we feel blessed and lucky that she was indeed born alive and that we got to see her move and breathe, if only for a short while.
I was lying in bed that night, after watching the Grey’s episode about that mother’s final moments with her child, and trying to recall everything I could remember about the time we had with Molly after she was born. I tried to separate my “real” memories with the ones I associate with photos we have from that day or stories I have heard from Bob or other family members so many times that they seem “real” to me, even though I am not sure that I truly remember experiencing them.
As I shared in this post, that I wrote not long after Molly was born and died, one of my favorite and most vivid memories from April 17, 2008 is towards the end of the day, after our loved ones had gone home and Bob and I were just sitting in our room with Molly lying in the bassinet. She was dressed in the sweet pink outfit that we had bought for her and the blanket Sean helped us to pick out to “wrap her in our love.”
We didn’t bring our own camera that day, knowing we had a bereavement photographer that would be taking pictures. Otherwise, we might have taken a photo or two at that moment. But instead, like in one of my favorite scenes from the movie Before Sunrise, I took a mental picture of our Molly-girl that I will forever carry with me.
I know that memory of our Molly is real because when I close my eyes I can go right back there, to the room and to the bed I was lying in (recovering from the c-section to deliver her), that I hadn’t been able to get out of since I received my spinal block on the operating table earlier that day.
I know that my photographic memory of Molly in that moment is real because the only other person who was there is able to validate that it happened. But even if Bob couldn’t do that for me, somehow I still know that it is my own and very real memory of our baby girl on the day that she was born and died.
What is real for you?
How do you know?
Do you have a favorite mental picture that you took of a special person, place or time in your life?
What does having that photographic memory mean to you?
Stayed tuned for What is Real? – Part II…