If you are active on social media you would have seen that Professor Green and Rag’n’Bone Man have released a song called “Photographs”. This song can relate to anyone, anywhere who has lost someone. No matter if it is your Husband, Mother, Grandfather or child who has died, there will always be a part of you that wish you done more. Wished you spoke to them more, embraced them hugs for longer and took more photographs. I know through losing my Nan I wish I spent more time savouring them moments we had and laughed a little harder because you never know when time is going to be cut short.
When Dexy died I had a million regrets. I still do. I wish I laid in bed a little longer feeling him kick. I wish that I took more videos of him kicking me and being a little wiggle bum. I wish I took more bump photos so I could look back and see how much he grew. All the way through my pregnancy with him I wish I just took a second to stop worrying about weight gain and stretch marks and realised that these 36 weeks was all I was ever going to have. But you don’t, you don’t know until it is gone.
When I was induced with Dexy I made a rule that I wanted to only document it as a happy moment. I just wanted my labour to be looked back on as not something so depressing but something I could smile at when I look at photos. I have over 300 photos from the moment I started my induction to when we left Dexy in the hospital room. Not all 300 of these photos have Dexy directly in but he is there in my bump, in the cot next to me or in my arms. I choose to share photos of Dexy publicly but I don’t share them all. Some of them are just for us, a memory of a painful time. I choose to only share happy photos of us as a family because after everything we were just like any other first time parents with their newborn.
The problem with the photos we have is that they are the only photos we are ever going to have. We will have no gappy tooth smile, prom pictures or silly christmas photos. We are only ever going to have photos of our dead baby. I read an article earlier about a mum that she knows her baby is ugly to people who don’t know them and it broke my heart. She was made to feel like her baby was ugly because people can’t look past the fact her baby was dead. After all they are just a baby that never took a breath. Whenever I see photos of people’s children who have sadly passed away I have never once thought that their baby was ugly no matter how many weeks they are or how they looked. I have only ever seen love and a beautiful little soul. Why? Because I know what happens behind the camera. I know that most of these photos are hiding the pain in our faces, they are a split second where we feel “Normal”, we know they are the only photos we are ever going to have. Photos that are lifetime worth in the space of a couple of hours or days. Never long enough.
The chorus hit me.
“Wish that I took more photographs of us
Said goodbye now, our love’s collecting dust
Just a memory of you is not enough
I wish that I took more photographs of us”
I know I’m lucky to have the photos I have when there are parents out there who only have a couple or none at all. I know I am lucky that I feel comfortable enough to share them and feel proud of them. But it is true. “Just a memory of you is not enough”. After all that is all Dexy is now. He is in our memory. He is pieces of writing, he is photos, he is a box. No parent should only have memories of their child. They should have them here making memories. It isn’t enough. Every day I crave my son, I crave the photos I am unable to take and the laughter I am unable to hear. I wish I could film him tasting a lemon for the first time, hear the first time he would say “Mama”, I wish I could take mental pictures of him sleeping knowing that when I wake up it wouldn’t be gone.
The whole “Put your phones down and live in the moment” I think is bullshit. Yes by all means enjoy where you are in your life, enjoy what you are doing and do it to the max but don’t ever let someone tell you to stop taking so many photos and just sit and watch. You never know when these photos will be all you have. You never know when you are going to be holding your phone close to your chest grasping for air because you feel like you are dying too. You never know when your family member will turn to you and be like “I can’t remember what Nan looked like before she got ill.” You can help them by scrolling through the photos and finding one, they can go to be that night with that picture in their mind instead of forever wondering. You never know when you are going to sit at 3am and be like “What did Dexy look like before he turned blue” and then I can just go on my phone or laptop and find them photos. I will never feel guilty for being that person now who spends all their time filming their family and friends just so I can keep them memories alive.
This song has hit home. It has already been heard by so many people and I can see how people relate to it. Death is a part of life but forgetting is not. We are in an age where we are able to capture everything. Yes “Said goodbye now, our love’s collecting dust” is completely true. I’ve forgotten details of the short time I had with Dexy. I can’t remember what he smelt like without smelling his blanket and memory box. I can remember what his hair felt like when I reached down when I was giving birth. I can’t remember every small detail of him but I am easily reminded when I look at the photos and videos we have of him.
Photos are important. They are all I have.