Think of your favorite memory. Do you have it? There’s only one, right? I would imagine not.
It’s like picking out your favorite picture. You see one that you adore and it floods your heart with such emotion, but then there’s another image that takes you back and makes your soul smile, too. Pictures do that. They hold an immense amount of power that can transcend time and space.
Every morning 3 canvases that adorn my hallway take me back to the first few months of my boys’ lives. Those still images remind me of those initial tender and challenging moments. I’m greeted by more memories of them when I arrive at work. Most of the images change from year to year, but one remains constant.
There he is to greet me every morning like he has since I returned to work 7 weeks after losing him a little over 3 years ago. His ultrasound image resides on a shelf full of my proud mom things. It is one of my favorite pictures of him. Honestly, all of the pictures I have of him are my favorites. This particular picture is just part of the top 3.
Over the years, students have inquired about his ultrasound pictures. I’m sure it is mainly out of confusion as to why I would still have an ultrasound picture up. They are curious who it is. Most assume the picture is one of my other two boys and are usually taken back when I tell them it is my son that passed away. They are riddled with indecisiveness about their next move. Regardless of how uncomfortable I just made them, the question of why is always next.
Why would I want to keep that picture up? Doesn’t it just hurt you more?
They’re teenagers; they’re curious; boundaries aren’t really their thing. I don’t mind answering their questions though. I want them to learn my content, but I also want them to be compassionate, empathetic people. Sharing something with them about a topic I’m comfortable discussing hopefully opens their eyes a little. I explain to them the importance of that image.
This image is so much more than just a second caught on film. It holds a lifetime of one little boy. When that picture was taken, he was moving, his heart was beating, he was learning how to do things like all babies in utero do. He was alive. His life was short but had meaning. Seeing this picture in the morning brings me joy; it doesn’t bring sadness. We talk about how during his ultrasounds I could start to see his mannerisms. Anytime we saw Wyatt, it always began with his hands behind his head, as if he was just relaxing. During the conversation, my students will inevitably mention that it looks like he was waving. It really does!
You see, that picture doesn’t hold just one memory; it holds them all. With Love- Heather
photo credit: Heather Welch