What is Real? – Part I: Grace and Reality

by Kathy on June 21, 2012 · 6 comments

in Bob, Family, Loss, Love, Memories, Molly, Reality, TV Shows

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

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 saravega June 23, 2012 at 1:21 am

Completely, utterly and totally I can relate to that. Thank you for sharing. There is such a special beauty in those moments. I have had two such experiences, one with my little boy who was stillborn, and one with my little girl who like Molly, lived for a short time. It was as you describe both times. I did take thousands of pictures, and was lucky enough to have art materials around too, so I also sketched and drew them, Now, I take different comfort from all the images. But I agree that the memory moments were real, the awe at the beauty is real.

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2 Kathy June 29, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Thank you for sharing your experience and validating mine. I am sorry for your losses and am glad that you too find comfort in the pictures and memories you have of your son and daughter.
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3 Justine June 23, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Beautiful. I actually tell my son, sometimes, to take a picture with his mind … because there are snapshots I still have that take my breath away. Some of them were intentional (hanging upside down in the arms of a friend, looking out over a range of mountains from the top of one of them), some of them unintentional (a picture of the bathroom in the library where I spent half an hour during my second miscarriage, losing the baby, watching my son read and play on the floor in disbelief). The moments that take your breath away … those are the ones that are real.

Thanks for sharing this.
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4 Kathy June 29, 2012 at 4:46 pm

“The moments that take your breath away … those are the ones that are real.”

So true Justine.

You are welcome and thank you for sharing about the intentional and unintentional snapshots that you carry with you in your mind. I also love that you are teaching your son to do this too.
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5 @ErinHiscocks June 25, 2012 at 6:29 pm

In the early weeks, (can I even call them early weeks when it has only been 11 weeks since our loss?) I had terrible fears that I would forget River. I would burst into tears and wail to Jason that I was forgetting what she looked like; and that I was certain that all my memories of her would abandon me. He assured me that I would NEVER forget her. And, of course, he was right; but, I have forgotten some of it, in a way. When I think about her now, everything is a little less crisp, there’s a soft glow surrounding my memories of her. The parts that made me feel like I was being cut to the core are far less sharp now. I am left with an image of her that evokes a peaceful feeling, I like to think that how I see her in my memory now – surrounded by light – is a reflection of her having taken her place in heaven. That comforts me.

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6 Kathy June 29, 2012 at 4:43 pm

You and Jason are so right, you will never forget. But it is bittersweet when our memories get foggy. I love that your image of your baby girl now “evokes a peaceful feeling.” That is such a beautiful way to remember your River. Thank you for sharing and I am glad that light brings you comfort as you honor your daughters life and memory.
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