When my first baby was born I used to have nightmares that I wouldn’t know what she looked like.
The nightmare went like this, I dropped her off at childcare or daycare or some other unidentified place and when I came back, I couldn’t remember which baby was mine. I didn’t know her face. It wasn’t memorized because she was so new. She was changing every hour, everyday there was something new about her face and I dreamed that I would forget it. I dreamed that I wouldn’t remember what she looked like, that I couldn’t pick her up out of a lineup.
And now in my head I can barely remember what Shaundi looked like. She was a new and different every day. And this is my worst nightmare, that I wouldn’t be able to recognize her. I have photos but every parent knows that the photos you take never capture exactly what that baby looks like, there’s no context, you don’t know the moment, what was going on in the world around you — without that, the picture is just so flat and lifeless.
Like the one baby blanket that wasn’t washed, the one with the smell of her, the smell of baby. The scent has faded and been replaced with the smell of the Ziploc bag that I tried to hide it away in, hoping to save it forever. One little whiff of hope, of joy, now plastic like and gone. And her face, that sweet, tiny beautiful face…what did it look like EXACTLY?! I want to remember what she looked like in my arms. I want to remember every line, every crease, every smirk.
Unfortunately, there’s nowhere on this earth that I would have to recognize her, but why can’t my brain remember EVERY single little thing about her? Why? I just want that little beautiful face burned into my eyeballs forever. I don’t want to forget a single thing. Not a single detail, a single feature, a single movement, a single twitch.
What if I go to heaven and I can’t find her but she’s right in front of me? Why if I just don’t remember? What if I grow old and don’t remember what my baby looked like when she was alive?