Wednesday, August 8, 2012


There is a photo of Molly asleep in my arms. She is tiny. There is one of her playing in her playhouse, and the sun is setting. It was Fall, and she was 1. She has her mouth open wide, and her eyes squinted shut. Her cheeks flushed red from the cool evening air. Still another of the girls toasting marshmallows, and laughing. No one is looking at the camera. In fact, they are completely unaware of it. That is the only way I really like to shoot. Candid bits of everyday life. Snapshots while they eat, and play, sleep, and fight. I must take about 30 pictures a day. All of them I love, but there are a few shots that are truly spectacular. Or should I say, were.

They are gone. Deleted. Like they never existed. Through no fault of David's (ahem...) two years worth of memories, that I painstakingly documented, have simply vanished into thin air. A few strokes of the key, and their digital life put to an end. I really haven't been able to think about it much. As soon as David got off the final live chat, with the umpteenth expert on such matters, and informed me that they were irretrievable, I put it out of my mind. Like, if I didn't think about it, and ignored it, it really didn't happen. Maybe they were still floating in the air above us, like that scene in Willy Wonka, when Mike TV is floating above everyone in particles, and finally, moments later, appears on the screen. Maybe my pictures were still in transit.

My childhood pictures are at my Mom and Dad's house. Boxes of photos, mostly posed, with everyone huddled close, in the hope of fitting in the viewfinder. There are the awful school photos, archiving all the awkward years, from baby teeth, to adult teeth that don't quite fit in a 10 year old mouth, to the wretched 80's pictures, in which more makeup, and more hairspray seemed the only way to go.

Yet some of the best photos my Mom ever shot, were of us on a beach vacation. All candid. Simple shots of the sun setting. The sky orange. There is one where the Rose Gallo wine, in a tulip glass on a table catches the light just so,  and my Dad is holding me, and we are watching the sun slip beneath the horizon. I have the photo. It is perfectly square, and worn. I wouldn't recall that night without the photo. Or maybe I recall it only because I can see it actually happened.

I am surrounded by my girls. The family that I dreamed of. I am in awe of these beings, and never take it for granted how much they love me, and how brief this time together here in this house is. One day, they will be gone. College, and careers. Families of their own even, although Charlotte refuses that idea, simply based on how a baby needs to come out of your body.

Will I remember that great big smiling face of Molly in the playhouse? Or how tiny and blissful her face was as she slept. I look at Olivia now, and it is hard for me to recall the baby within her. She is so big. I can't see Charlotte's chubby cheeks anymore, because smooth cheekbones are emerging. Will I remember to recall it all? Will it come as easily as looking at the image in my hand?

I realized last night, as I was desperately tyring to burn every deleted photo into my memory, that I can remember how warm, and small they all were, when I first held them. I remember how they smelled. I was astounded by how soft their skin was. And the little squeaks and purrs they let out as newborns, are forever in my mind. I can't hold them like that anymore. And now, I have less digital memory of them.

But I have them. And I can still hear my Dad's voice, counting the last teeny tiny speck of the orange sun, disappeared from the sky. Photo or not.

I can still hear him.

1 comment:

  1. Edie once recorded herself singing a song on Pat's cell phone at the time. It wasn't one of her standard ones and she never again sang it. She was about three and she riffed about 'you gotta know your life. you gotta live your life. you gotta love your life. Bar-bie. Bar-bie. Peg-aaa-ses." It was charming and adorable and we treasured it. Sadly, we never could figure out how to transfer it off that phone and now the phone is lost to the ages somewhere. We still sing it to ourselves and when we do, I can hear her sweet three year old voice singing it.