Family members, held in frames, peppering the walls. Fairly normal practice. An act of reverence. Precious moments made concrete, made to share, made everlasting.
I can’t put them up.
I have multiple empty frames, and they’ve been sitting empty since we took up residence here.
I don’t know what to put in them. Nothing seems to make sense. If I put a photo of Oliver at three months, it feels stupid to still have up when he’s sixteen months. If I put a photo of me pre-baby, it feels like a lie. Who was she? She’s gone now.
I take, on average, 200 photos per day. I snap the hell out of that virtual button on my iPhone; I go apeshit, trying to make a moment even more true.
This happened. That happened. We happened. We were.
I write because it lets me live life twice. The photographs and videos, they do the same. I won’t have to beg my ears to bring his baby voice back to me, years from now. It’s captured. I can hear it, exactly as it was, I hope that I can feel it, exactly as it was.
But when I’m running to grab my phone, sometimes — he falls. And when I’m pulling up the camera, sometimes — I miss the look on his face I really wanted to hold in my hands, forever and ever.
This weekend, we were camping. I took some serious photo shoots of Bela and Oliver, but most of the time, tried to let images go by the wayside, in favor of experiencing moments completely. We walked down a hill, and perched ourselves atop a small cliff, overlooking a lake that appeared endless. There were pelicans floating by in huge groupings, their bodies bouncing with the waves, floating, the most elegant lazy beings I’d ever seen. I gasped, as I counted. 122 pelicans. 122 pelicans, floating by. I was astounded to have come upon such a sight. Oliver followed suit. He gasped every few seconds, jutting his small pointer finger out in the air, shocked – awed, by the sight, as well.
My heart fell.
I didn’t have my phone. The sound of his nature-induced gasps would be lost to me. They existed in this one moment only. This one moment only.
Suddenly, I felt relief.
I sat back, placed his still-baby arms in my palms, and, without a screen or lens between us, I leaned in.