In Elijah's lifetime, there were a finite number of pictures taken of him.
There were quite a few pictures, but he lived for thirteen months and eleven days.
So there are thirteen months and eleven days worth of pictures. Considering not many pictures were taken of him at the end, when he was sick. It never occurred to us that it could or would be the end.
There was also video taken of him. This was before we had a digital video camera, so we have some tapes.
I have never, ever watched any of that footage. Not one second.
I have thought about it, I think I will do it, I think I am ready.
Then I conveniently forget.
Until the next time.
Right after Elijah died, I was incapable of even looking at his pictures. The day that he died, I came home to pictures of him all around my house - pictures of him alive. Pictures that taunted and mocked me, reminding me only of the fact that he was - gone.
A photo of his shining blue eyes reminded me that they were closed and unshining. A picture of his chubby smile reminded me of giving him mouth-to-mouth CPR for 45 minutes. A picture of his platinum hair reminded me of cutting a lock to drop into an envelope (which, to this day, remains 'lost') just hours after he took his last breath.
A picture of his life reminded me only of his death; of his expressions in death, of the panic, of the failure to revive him, of the fact that it was all over. Forever.
And then, as I would reach to turn the picture face-down, I would sob with guilt. What kind of mother looks at her child's smile and is reminded only of his death? What kind of mother could cradle him in astonishment as he took his last breath, cradle him just hours later while the shock overcame her that he was just an empty shell, and then, just a few hours later, be unable to look at his face?
Grief of this magnitude is difficult to navigate, it is suffocating - it is breathing in thick mud, it is impossible for the beholder to comprehend, and it is overwhelming (think catatonic) to feel. It is pretty much like a head-on collision with a large truck that doesn't kill you.
Sadness that runs so deep, it carries its own albatross of grief.
It has been four years and six months since Elijah died. That itself, seems unimaginable.
Not once have I been courageous enough to view any of that video. I know it exists.
I imagine what it might be like - to watch him wave his hands around again, to see him reach for his favorite toys, to watch his bright eyes dart between us and the fairies, and oh! to hear him coo and sing...
...but not be able to reach for him, kiss him, hold him...
I don't know. If I cannot write those memories without tearing up, perhaps I am not ready to see him.
I wish I could say I was strong.
But you can see, that really, I am not.