So I finally won something! I won a contest! There’s a writer named Lea Grover that I instantly fell in love with. The rythym of her writing. The truthfulness of her words. Unapologetic and strong but soft and mushy too. She’s someone I’d totally be friends with and not just in my head.
Lea Grover, my imaginary bff, posed this question on her blog a few weeks ago…”If you won a free blown up canvas print, what photograph would you blow up and why?”
When I was little, my grandparents lived a mile away. In their sunken living room complete with baroque hanging lamps and a gigantic green velour couch, there was a wall of pictures. Every family member was represented. From their parents stiffly posed in pre-Russian Revolution sepia tones… to their wedding photo… to my mother and uncle… and then all the grandchildren. It was arranged on the wall in almost a diamond shape but not really. It was perfectly askew. There must’ve been fifty photographs. I knew I wanted to have a wall of pictures like that when I grew up.
When we first got married, our walls were full of wedding and honeymoon pictures. My mother in law, on a visit from Florida, said “Jeez, you’d better have a baby. There’s too many pictures of the two of you here.” She was right. We had the quantity but not the diversity.
Then Noah was born and the wall grew. We had a mini photo printer and I was always on the lookout for frames at garage sales. His face was everywhere.
July 2010, the accident happened. A swimming pool accident. In an instant he was gone. And all his pictures came down that same day. I couldn’t look at his face. It was the worst pain in the world.
It took about two years for me to even be able to look at a picture of him. Video was still impossible.
Six years have passed. We have a three year old daughter now. She knows about her angel brother Noah. She knows which of her toys were his. She says “Noah gave this to me, right Mommy?” and I see her trying to make sense of this mysterious brother we talk about.
A few months ago I was having trouble trying to print out a photo to put into a locket I had. I printed it out too big onto an 8.5 x 11 piece of typing paper. His face covered the whole page. And for the first time since Noah died, I hung that picture on the wall.
It’s hanging behind the door in Miriam’s room. I see it every morning and night. Sometimes I stare into his eyes and try to see if he knew he would be gone just two weeks later. What would that look like? Like he’s saying sorry? Like he’s saying goodbye? See ‘ya, Mama. I’m done here!
Sometimes I just glance at his face and sometimes I stop to stare. But in the last few months, it’s gotten easier. The lump in my throat has gotten a little smaller. The tears don’t involuntarily fall like they used to. I feel more in control of myself when faced with that face.
So back to my bff Lea Grover’s contest. I wrote that I felt ready to look at Noah’s face again. That I would love to have something solid and real like a blown up canvas of his face.
I still get confused sometimes. I’ll need to touch one of his socks that I keep in my glove compartment. Or touch one of the few toys we kept. That will bring me back to reality. The reality that he was here but now he’s not. I want to see his face. I want our daughter Miriam to know his face.
When our new canvas print arrives and the typing paper version comes down off the wall, I’m sure somedays I’ll only glance and somedays I’ll really stare.