Thursday, October 21, 2010

Picture this

On Saturday night, for no other reason that it suddenly occurred to me that I wanted to, I posted an album of Thomas-related photos on Facebook.

I think the idea sparked to life after I saw a picture Loribeth posted there of the beautiful plaque on her sweet baby girl's niche. It was such an intimate and lovely thing to see, and it allowed me to know her just a little bit more than I had before, which is something so precious when you're talking about a baby that has died. There isn't much to know - that's the unfortunate truth. Every little thing is to be cherished.

So I set about digging through my photos with a strange sort of urgency and excitement. Having suddenly discovered that it was the right time to share all those sweet memories of my pregnancy and Thomas' short life, I couldn't wait to post the pictures.

I was, if you squinted and looked at just the right angle, going to be almost normal - just like any mom who posts pictures of her pregnancy, nursery, and the baby that followed on Facebook.

You know, normal but for the part in the photo essay where you see a grave marker - and stop seeing pictures of the baby.

Details, details, details.

It took an hour or so to choose, download and caption the photos.

Dozens of kind, loving thoughts now litter the comment section below the album - words I will carry in my heart forever because they are so heartfelt and so loving. That wasn't a surprise (I'm friends with some really, really great people) - it was my reaction that caught me off guard.

I was touched. Happy. Grateful.

And then, somehow, confused. Because in the midst of reveling in the joy of hearing people say what a lovely boy he was, and how much they appreciated the album, and how hard it must have been for me to post it, I started feeling a slow, creeping kind of sadness.

My boy - my story - disturbs people. It makes them uncomfortable and sorry and sad.

Which, I mean - duh. Of course it does. Of course.

But somehow in the midst of my photo posting frenzy, I kind of forgot that bit. I was thisclose to being normal - posting pictures of me pregnant and smiling, of My Beloved painting the nursery, of me cutting the cake at my shower - and my excitement at doing a regular old thing like sharing baby photos with friends made me forget that we aren't really regular people anymore.

My balloon didn't burst, exactly. But the slow leak did it in just the same.

I feel a bit foolish for having tricked myself the way I did. I look back and see a crazed woman madly scouring her photo archives with reckless abandon and unbridled glee, totally oblivious to the crash that was of course going to come - and I'm amazed at her naivete.

After more than five and a half years you'd think I'd know better. I mean, really.

But still, the brief feeling of normalcy was quite nice. And, in the end, totally worth it.

And besides, I'm glad that my friends might now feel that they know Thomas a tiny bit better than they did before - just like I feel a lovely sort of peace and closeness for knowing Loribeth's Katie just that much more now too.


Illanare said...

I wish I had words good enough for this post. Instead am sending hugs.

lady pumpkin said...

So glad you put those pictures up, but sad that your community's reaction left your balloon deflated.

- lady pumpkin

areyoukiddingme said...

Well, I'm guessing that you didn't have a chance to celebrate that happy time the way you would have had Thomas lived...and you do deserve that very much - regardless of the outcome. Also, pictures of our loved ones are important, especially if that loved one is no longer here.

Of course your story makes people sad. And it is normal to want to share such an important part of your life with your friends, who may not have had anything more than a few words previously. This is part of who you are, and you should be able to let people know this. I'm sure that this was a good (and happy) form of catharsis - and how often do you get that?

I say, reinflate that balloon. You should be able to share your son like any other proud mother. If it makes people sad, it's because it's a sad story. If it makes people uncomfortable, it's because they don't understand grief and mourning. You don't have to minimize Thomas in your life so other people can be comfortable.

(I hope I'm getting my point across's one would question a photo homage to my dad who's been dead for almost 20 years. So, no one should question your photos of Thomas either.)

Michele said...

I agree... Re-inflate the balloon. He's beautiful. :)

RP said...

I'm always happy to see photos of your gorgeous boy. The story makes me sad, but seeing him and having you share him makes me happy. If that makes sense.

loribeth said...

I'm both touched & tickled that posting that single photo led to you posting an entire album dedicated to Thomas. : ) I wish I had such guts -- I actually debated whether to post that one, but since I'd already posted my status update for Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness, I was feeling reckless, lol. In 12 years, I don't think I've ever shared a Katie-related photo outside of my blog, loss forums or real-life support group. Note that my one photo hasn't received anywhere near the comments your album has -- I can't access Facebook at the moment, but I think I got two -- yours & another fellow loss mom's. I would love to know how many people even realize that we had a funeral & put her ashes in a cemetery. I'm sure it was a revelation to some.

Your album was beautiful to see -- and why shouldn't you get to show off your beautiful boy the same as any other mother on Facebook?? I also like that you've included photos taken since his death of his tree, his birthday cake, etc. -- it shows people that Thomas continues to be part of your family (and always will be). (((hugs)))

Tigger said...

I'm a lurker, followed to you from loribeth's comment on the roundup)

I agree with "Areyoukiddingme" - reinflate your balloon. Yes, baby-loss stories are sad, and it is good that other people are sad with you. Yes, it is going to make people uncomfortable, but that is not YOUR problem. You did not force them to look at the pictures or read your story.

You behaved as a proud mom who posted pictures of your son. Would it be any different if your son lived to be 5 years, 10 years, 18 years old? No, not really...except that you'd have a whole lot of pictures to choose from. No one would chastise you for posting them, at least not anyone with half a heart, and no one should do such a thing now either.

If it made you feel better, even for a short time, then it was worth it. Share your son, let people get to know him, be a proud momma.

Mrs. Spit said...

So, 2 things, how did I miss this firstly . .

Perhaps we are coming at this from the wrong direction. Every so often, I have this thought, that I am the normal mum - I am the mum who loved her baby, was so happy to be pregnant and love to share that and the world around me isn't quite normal because they want me to shut up so I don't make them feel uncomfortable. . .

Scrappy_Lady said...

I'm voting you reinflate the balloon as well. Those photos are wonderful, commemorating the months leading up to the birth of a beautiful baby.

I remember wondering what prompted you to share the photos, as I hadn't seen them all before. I guessed it was Oct 15th, but wasn't sure. No matter the cause, I found it lovely that you did post them. I think it's a good thing.

There may be sadness, but there can also be joy, hope, and love.

Mali said...

I have just found you, via Loribeth's comment on Stirrup Queen's blog.

Remembering the happy times, the times of such optimism, with such love, is wonderful. It means you're remembering Thomas with love. What better way to honour him, and to honour your pain, than that?