If you were to look at the photos I took on my phone between May and November of 2014, you would , knowing my backstory, watch a terribly depressing story unfold. At the time, the photos were innocent and fun, almost all of them heralding the inevitable arrival of our son. Of course, at the time, we didn’t know what was going to await us at the end of this journey.
There are weekly bump photos from 17 weeks onward (when I first started to notice his presence), pictures of the progress on our son’s nursery-to-be, and lots of photos of our adorable baby shower and the 10 or so people who showed up and made it a great time. Later, there are a number of photos to follow of our temporary bedroom setup, just waiting for our baby to arrive and, inevitably, get his various bodily fluids all over it. There’s a brand new, newly assembled glider and ottoman with a boomerang nursing pillow ready for use. His clothes were all washed, folded, and neatly sorted away in his dresser for later use. Washcloths and receiving blankets all sit on the dresser top at easy access.
This was the last photo I took before I found out Brock had died. On the 19th of October, after my bad NST, we joined my MIL for dinner and she had a customized message written on a cake to show she shared our distress over the situation and to try and lighten the mood (the grammar is a bit odd, but you get the point):
There are no more photos until 11 days later, when I took this picture.
Yep, a pantry. Specifically, it was a photo of the pantry at our new residence, that we’d moved into 5 days prior (yes, we moved two days after our son’s birth). I took this picture to text to my brother (who had the other half of the pantry that was not half so tidy) and show him how neat and organized I’d managed to make it. Seems innocent enough, doesn’t it?
And yet, for reasons that are hard to explain, I hate this photo with a passion and I don’t know why I continue to keep it. I don’t like to use the word ‘hate’ because hate is a very strong word, but it’s the only word adequate for my feelings about this picture. It reminds me of some of the darkest moments of my life for various reasons.
This photo reminds me, every time I see it, that my son died five days before it was taken. Three days later, I would be standing around at his visitation with what felt like hundreds of sets of eyes on me, people who felt badly for me but just had no idea what to say or do to lessen the pain. I think I felt as confused and lost as they did.
This photo reminds me of all the weird, irrational ways I tried to deal with the feelings and emotions surrounding my loss. Why did I think that meticulously sorting and facing all of my dry and canned goods was going to make me feel better? I spent the next several months inwardly panicking, trying to fill the hole left by Brock with things and obligations.
Deep down, exacerbating the issue, is the fact that I feel like this photo should not exist at all. In all probability, I feel that my son should have lived – and, if he had, things would have turned out a lot differently than they have thus far. I wouldn’t be blogging about the loss of a child because I’d have him here with me.
In reality, on the 30th of October, the pantry should have been the furthest thing from my mind. I should have haphazardly thrown all our food into the pantry and then rushed away again, because I would have had a plethora of things to do in the short reprieve I had while Brock was asleep somewhere else in the house.
When I look at this photo, I see and feel all of those things: me, badly coping with a loss that made no sense, in the only way I knew how at the time. I would have much, much rather had a messy pantry, no photo to document the beginning stages of the insanity to follow, and a very young newborn taking up all my free time. Instead of this one photo, I had expected that my phone would be drowning in badly framed, poorly lit photos of my baby by then.
Instead, I have a picture of a pantry.