When E was about six months old, I organized and decorated her room. It was, literally, the only room in the house at that time I’d managed to do anything in remotely resembling organization. The whole project had gotten kicked off with me wailing at Arthur one day about how I “hadn’t even gotten to put together the nursery” before I’d gone into the hospital and then had been too busy in NICU to even try to deal with it. From there, we’d had oxygen equipment for months (even after E had stopped needing oxygen, our doctors had us keep the equipment a bit longer just in case) and needed a place to put the apnea monitor. All this meant that the room was beautifully arranged to fit the monitor and oxygen equipment, but not really optimally for living without them. We’d recently gotten rid of both the oxygen compressor and the apnea monitor, but the room was, like the rest of the house, a mess.
To placate me, Arthur told me that I should let the rest of the house go for the time being and see if I could work up a way to make E’s room nice. He’d help with as much as he could and also with the lifting/arranging of furniture. We decided to make a little bit of room in our budget to get a few things to decorate the room as well.
One day, I found a neat collage frame at a store. It held six photos, organized around a central photo. It was a little more expensive than we wanted, but I couldn’t resist. I bought it and eventually put a photo of E in the center with a picture of us, one of my parents, one of Arthur’s family, one of the twin cousins once they were born, and one of my brother and his girlfriend in the outside frames. It’s one of my favorite parts of E’s room.
As E has learned to talk and recognize people, Arthur started explaining who the people were in the frames when he was getting E dressed in the mornings. Or so I found out when E startled me one morning by pointing up at the picture of my brother and announcing, “Unca E-!”
It wasn’t that I minded at all, in fact, it was lovely and I am really glad that Arthur is teaching E who the people in the frames are to her. It was more that I wasn’t expecting it and it took me off guard for a moment. I treasured the moment and didn’t think about it again for awhile.
A few weeks ago, I got some photos from my mother that I asked her for and downloaded from her phone, a whole mishmash starting at the beginning of E’s life. As I was going through them, I found one that made me stop and stare, one I hadn’t been entirely certain existed. E was born about seven months before my brother died. He saw her once in NICU and then once in September of 2015. Only during that September visit did he get to hold her. At the time, it didn’t seem extremely noteworthy. I didn’t know if anyone had snapped a photo.
There it was, though. E hurried over, took one look at the photo and went “Unca E-“. She made me go back to the photo several times as I scrolled through the folder, even trying to use the touchscreen on my laptop to go back to look at it anytime I’d try to move forward.
It was beautiful and so, so d*mn sad at the same time.