Bitter. Sweet.

I want to print Zion’s baby book. Or rather, I need to print it. But I don’t really want to.

Part of me does and part of me doesn’t.

All I have left of him are my memories and those pictures. And I love those pictures.

Well. Some of them.

But some of them, I hate. Some of them, I can’t even look at. Some of them rip through my heart like a dagger, piercing through to the very depths of my being.

After he was born, we were concerned that his skin would start peeling, and so we handled him very, very gently.  At first, his whole body was slightly damp and sticky and a little bit shiny. When we pulled him out of the sack (he was born en caul, my water never broke), part of the stretchy, sticky substance stuck to his body, a large portion covering half of his face.  I tried to peel it away at first, but I was too afraid of tearing his tender skin.  I knew he would never feel it. But I would.  And I just couldn’t.

So for the first half of the pictures, his face is half obscured by what was left of the sack.  And it looks…creepy.  Eerie.  Disturbing.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.  I had to at least try to get that sack off his face.  Thankfully, my long nails were perfect for oh, so carefully peeling a strand off. And once it started coming, it kept coming.  And then! His other eye! His whole face! Why hadn’t I done that before?  Some of my favorite pictures of us with him we took before I got that stupid sack off his face.  And I will always wish I had pulled it off from the beginning.

I love, love, love this picture of my hands in a heart around his tiny, precious feet.  You guys.  Every. Single. Little. Toe. Melt-your-heart adorable. But every time I look at it, I want to redo it. I want to be able to reach into the camera and pull that leftover strand of sack off his feet.

View More: http://photos.pass.us/zionemmanuel

But the ones that I can’t look at are the ones where it’s just him, lying limply on his blanket.  As soon as we would prop his head or hands up one way, they would fall lifeless to the side again.  His head would roll back to the side, his cheeks and neck bulging out grotesquely under the weight of his still disproportionate head. I can’t look at them without remembering how horrifyingly dead he was.  How it was the opposite of what a birthday should be.

I can’t look at his wide open, vacant eyes without wishing I knew what color they would have become.  Without wishing he had at least been alive long enough to grow eyelids over those eyes so they weren’t just so awfully empty.

My five-year old just walked in as I was browsing through his pictures to find ones for this post. She gasped in awe, “Is that baby Zion?” she asked, running up and gazing longingly at her brother.

Then. As only children, in their sheer uncensored honesty can say things.  “Ewww.  He looks kinda ugly.” And then she was off to fight bad guys again with her siblings. And I am left with that bitter truth.

I hate that. I hate that I think the same thing. I hate that part of me cringes when I see some of his pictures, because he just wasn’t ready yet. He wasn’t ready to be born yet.  He wasn’t ready for the outside world. My mama’s heart wants to protect him from anyone else thinking or saying the same thing.

I love, love, love this one of us holding him  together.  But I can’t look at the pictures of us holding him without wishing he had grown big enough to hold him in our arms instead of just our hands.

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The pictures are both bitter and sweet.  Truly bittersweet.  Some of the pictures I absolutely love.  I will print them out and hang them on my wall and my heart will swell with love and longing every time I look at them.  But others are just hard.  Others are just plain sad for me.

And part of me feels like I need to hang on to those painful ones, too, because it’s all I have to remember him by.  But another part of me says it’s okay to let those go.  It’s okay to not print some of them in his baby book.  It’s okay to want his baby book to be my favorite pictures, the ones I love of the son I never got to know.

One of these days, if Shutterfly will stop glitching long enough for me to finish the book, I will print it off.  I will print the pictures that I love, and not print the ones that I don’t love.  And I will happily share his memory with anyone who wants to see the pictures I feel comfortable showing.  And that’s okay.

 

 

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