To make it real

We took a photo of Zoe after she died. James thought of it first. Frank said he’d been thinking the same thing. I thought it was a good idea so I did it too. I thought how I’d wished we’d had a photo of the baby who died at 29 weeks gestation. It made sense to me to make sure we had a photo of Zoe dead. Every once and a while I will scroll past the image in the photos on my phone and wonder what it will take for me to delete it.

We have so many photos of Zoe alive, why would we need a photo of her dead? To make it real, I now think. We had no photos of the baby alive so we needed a photo of him dead. To make him real.

The last photo of Zoe alive is on Christmas Day. She wanted a photo of her wearing her Eeyore robe holding her Eeyore coffee cup. The robe was a gift from me. The coffee cup a gift from her dad. She posted the photo on Facebook. She was unhappy with the photo I took. Rushing, I didn’t let her take the time to get the ears on the hood facing in the right direction. Yes, my 28-year-old child wanted an Eeyore robe for Christmas, complete with ears and a tail.

She was real. I have the photos to prove it. Images that surround me on a daily basis. There she is sitting on my lap in the water at Galveston. There she is as an infant asleep beside me in the bed. There she is being held by her sister Sarah. They are both smiling. I guess their ages as about six months and 4 years.

There she is in the hospital, newly arrived. Sarah sits in a chair receiving the infant Zoe from their dad. Sarah looks up at him as if to say, “thank you for trusting me with this gift.”

I am not in the photo. I am taking the photo. I remember. Or, I have pieced together the memory from other photographs taken that day. I am wearing an orange robe. My stomach is still extended from the pregnancy. My hair is unwashed. My sleep-deprived eyes are barely open. I was there. James hands Sarah our precious gift. She is real.

A garden angel given to me by friends after Zoe died. She loved Doctor Who, so we move it around for fun (weeping angels – you get it if you are a fan). She’d love it.

About Lora Brandis

I am a Unitarian Universalist minister serving the Horizon UU Church in Carrollton, TX. I am also a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend and a deep sea diver. Well, I'm not really a deep sea diver, but a friend once called me that because I like to go deep below surface meanings.
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