My daughter turns 4 at the the end of the month.
That means I have been a mom for 4 years.
I’ve watched her grow for 4 whole years.
It also means it’s been 4 years since my time in the NICU.
With baby #2 on the way, I’m obviously beyond excited, but there is also an added layer. It’s one that I can’t fully convey unless you’ve stood in my shoes. I can say this:
The memories are still there.
Some things take me back instantly:
- the way the soap at Evergreen Hospital smells
- ordering certain things from Starbucks (a place we visited nearly every day that Alana was away)
- seeing brand new babies…not hooked up to anything
- if it’s snowing and sunny at the same time
- the taste of lime seltzer water from Trader Joe’s
This list is limited, but random things still catch me off guard from time to time. When I used to work with Alzheimer’s patients we spent a lot of time understanding how memories are stored. Sometimes the mind forgets things the body remembers, for instance, you might encounter an old woman who has no recollection of her name or the names of her children, but she can play the piano like nobody’s business. Her mind might be slipping into the abyss of dementia, but her hands remember the way the keys feel and where they are supposed to go. Sometimes my brain knows Alana is healthy and fine, but one sip of the past and I can taste it all over again.
The memories remain but they HAVE CHANGED. It’s almost like looking into a frosted mirror, you can make out images, but they don’t appear sharp in all the same places that they used to.
It helps me to think of our lives as art. Art is ever changing. You can stand in front of the same art piece over and over, and still walk away noticing different things each time. Art can evoke different emotions with a change of lighting, at certain times of the year, or from various viewing angles. When I studied ancient art and architecture in Paris, we would often view beautiful sculptures at the Louvre. These gorgeous sculptures were reclaimed from the walls of historical monuments throughout Europe, and they were designed to be seen from the ground up. As stunning as it was to stand directly in front of them, it really didn’t do them justice because they were meant to tower above you.
So, if life is art, we must expect our memories to change with time too. There is a beauty to the sharp and smooth places of our hearts. Sometimes it helps to step back, wait for the lighting to change, and see how things look later on. Maybe you’ll see something that you didn’t see the first time. Maybe you’ll feel better about some things being blurry, so you can focus on what really moves you.
I might remember every sharp detail of my daughter’s premature birth, but it’s the parts I choose to focus on that shape the art I live.
I don’t know where you are at in your journey, but I pray that as you move forward into new seasons, that you will embrace your life as a masterpiece, because you were made with love and that truth will never change or blur with time.