Remember when you had to wait for film to be developed and your pictures to be ready? You’d pick up that envelope from the drugstore photo counter and excitedly flip through them, deciding which ones to frame, put in an album, or have copied to send to grandparents. You might also look through old family photos and have certain precious ones restored or touched up.
But, since the advent of cameras built into phones, pictures have become a dime a dozen. We take pictures of anything and everything. Need a reminder of something to pick up at the store? Take a picture of it. Want to know what that weird bug is? Snap a pic with your phone and then Google it.
Cloud storage is cheap, so we have hundreds, thousands of pictures of all kinds of stuff stored for posterity. A quick scroll through my phone camera shows pics of my grandkids (duh), kitchen cabinet designs I like, flowers, cans of seltzer (??), a Wordle score, more grandkids’ pics, and my injured toe.
What I don’t have any more of, since April 2017 is pictures of my younger daughter.
I have to stop typing so I can process that sentence.
My impetus for this blog is to write about my experience as a bereaved parent. Because social media is a mostly visual platform and because most folks have a short attention span for words, we bloggers try to insert a lot of images and visually interesting effects into our posts. So, when I write about my daughter I want to include pictures of her. I have 30 years’ worth of pictures of her. But, I only have 30 years’ worth of pictures of her.
So, as the years go on, those pictures will look dated. Well, sure. Pictures of her when she was a toddler in 1987 of course look dated. And, pretty soon her wedding pictures from February 10, 2017 will look unfashionable. No big deal, right?
But, here’s the rub: There will never be any more pictures. (FULL STOP in case you didn’t notice it.)
I have the luxury of taking, picking, and choosing new pictures all the time of my older daughter and my grandkids as they grow. I have the choice to delete new selfies I don’t like because my neck looks wrinkled or my dark roots are showing. I have pictures of the progress of the building of our guest house.
But, my younger daughter is preserved in amber. Oh, I have no doubt that her soul lives on eternally in Heaven. And, some day, her body will be resurrected anew along with all the believers who have gone before us. But, in the meantime . . . in the meantime . . .
I have no new memories to make with her. I have no new pictures to take. I, her mother, who have outlived her, continue to grow older, continue to change. And, continue to remember her. As she was.
Because, that’s all I have.