I absolutely understand that when people say things like, “Just think of all the wonderful memories you have” or “He brought you so much joy” they mean well.
Because it’s true-I have beautiful memories of Dominic. And he DID bring me great joy.
But I had those things BEFORE he was beyond my reach.
Childhood memories, photographs, mementoes from school and athletic teams-they were already displayed on the walls and shelves of my home.
But there were things I had then that I don’t have now:
- his physical presence;
- his laughter ringing down the hallway;
- his text messages telling his absent-minded mama that there were storms headed her way;
- his level-headed relationship advice;
- and his tech-savvy, “I can fix it” help when I crashed my computer or other electronic device.
I don’t have a hundred different uniquely Dominic parts of my life anymore.
And I miss every one of them.
We took this picture celebrating Father’s Day 2013 and it was supposed to be a joke.
Dominic had a habit of finding somewhere to be for the end of May (which includes his birthday) and the first couple weeks of June (Father’s Day) nearly every summer for the last six years he was with us.
I had to schedule his high school graduation (we home schooled) for the ONE weekend out of the whole summer when he would be home before he entered college in the fall.
In 2013 he was studying abroad in Switzerland.
So on this day when he was absent (again!) I brought along this picture and thought it would be funny to have him represented in the obligatory Father’s Day photo-little smiling Dominic.
It popped up in my Facebook memories the other day and I realized it’s not funny anymore.
Now the only way Dominic CAN be part of a family portrait is if one of us holds a picture of him.
I hate that.
Who could have guessed that our messing around would now mess with my head?
When I shared this post awhile back, it sparked quite a discussion among friends and an online community of bereaved parents to which I belong.
Pictures are a mixed blessing to those of us who have buried a child:
We love to see our dear one’s face beaming back at us but we also long to touch and hold the one represented by the two-dimensional image. And when others share a photo on Facebook or Instagram, we are sometimes caught off-guard as our newsfeed scrolls by–There he is! Our hearts stop for a moment.
I love to get pictures of my son through email or in notes and letters-many are ones I would otherwise never know about. So if you have photos that a bereaved parent might like to see, think about sharing them. And write a line or two about how our child is still part of your life.
We miss our children and welcome ways to connect with them through others.
“Pictures are everywhere today–much different than when I was a child and you had to go down to the local studio to get a decent family photo. Poloroids were fun and fast, but the number of shots you could take was limited to the film in the packet.
One of the challenges facing bereaved parents is what to do about photographs–both the ones that exist and the ones yet to be taken.”
Read the rest: Bereaved Parents and The Question of Photographs