Posted in Blogfest Entries, Coffee and Conversation, First Friday Photo, Life Writing, Parenting

July, Again….A First Friday Photo for Coffee and Conversation

When I was six, my family was driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark.

For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.

I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own.

Today we return to First Friday Photo /, Eden Mabee’s nifty once-a-month blog hop that encourages us to share an image (or more), on the first Friday of each month. So sit back, sip, and let me tell you what’s on my mind, today…

What pictures do you must treasure?

Why are they important to you?

This image of Elijah James, our second child, is one of my most treasured, because I can never take another picture like it. That’s true for every baby, every person, really – we’re never exactly the same, from one moment to the next, after all.  But we’re so used to that, we scarcely even think about it as we go about our lives.

But, with Elijah, there are no more chances for any pictures.

This image was taken on July 21, 2003. Four days later, he died.

Elijah was twelve days old, and lived his entire life in the NICU of a hospital an hour from our home.

This makes every image of him, every memento, every memory, more precious – because they’re finite in a very definite way. Not only did his infancy disappear; his life did. All the potential he held within him, anything he might have been or done or said, was irretrievably lost on a Friday afternoon in late July.

But I have memories, and images, and the intention not to let him slip unremembered into the mists of time…

Which has led me to play with this image, and memorialize our Tiny Tiger in various ways, such as this edit…

The quote is from a poem I wrote for Elijah during OctPoWriMo. com/ I also wrote poems for his two living siblings, who have grown and changed with the years….but Elijah’s is the one that most tugs at my heart, and which I remember, each July 13- 25,  which will forever be Elijah’s Days in my mind – the twelve days that encompassed his entire life.

Here’s the poem in its entirety…

Soul to Soul

Twelve days makes a very short lifetime –

So very much I never knew

About who you might have been.

A brief little blip, like the ones on the monitors

That measured the breaths and beats of your life.

Made less by that robber-baron, coma.

So very much of your life taken

From you, even while you still lived

Leaving a half-death that we couldn’t share.

But before we knew, and grieved,

On the night of your birth, when still

There was hope…

That night, as soon as I could,

I came to you, and pulled myself up

To see your face for the first time.

Your gaze found mine, instantly

You knew the sound of my voice,

And so you watched me.

Soul to soul, mother and son

Everything else faded out, and away

And there was only us.

You met my eyes as an equal

As though you knew you could not stay,

And had long since accepted what I could not.

Peace and wisdom met me, embraced me

In the way I longed to hold you

You settled into my being, my son.

You seemed to be saying that

All was as it was meant to be

Leaving me only to accept.

I looked and looked

And, in that shared gaze

A lifetime of knowing was held.

The next day those wise eyes

Drooped, then closed

And did not open again.

It’s both solace and sorrow, to revisit these images of a child now nearly twelve years gone – a child whose lifespan was only twelve days long. It reminds me of my most shattering loss – and makes an indelible statement about what’s important, and why. Because of Elijah, we live in a way we might not, without him. Because of him, I don’t take my loved ones for granted; I know, every moment, that life is finite – not just for him, but for every one of us…

This last image was taken on the day Elijah would have been three years old. I love this one because it holds the potential for joy, and play, and all that life can offer…the kids and I had just taken letters and pictures to Elijah’s tree in the front yard, to read to him. Then, it was time for Cozy Coupe calamities and the stuff of living-little-kidness…which, so often, is the best balm…

Do you have a favorite image of a loved one lost, or one who isn’t?

One that reminds you that life and death, joy and sorrow,

are inextricably bound up in one another?

I’d love to chat about it; I find that talking and sharing help.

Let me refill our cups, while you tell a story…

Have something to share for First Friday Photo?

Click the little linky guy and hop right in.


I am myself. I own my life, and live with three other people who own theirs. My intention is to do only those things that bring me joy, and to give myself wholly to those things I do. Writing has been my passion throughout my life, and this will become the home for my writing life...because it brings me great joy!

10 thoughts on “July, Again….A First Friday Photo for Coffee and Conversation

  1. Shan, love… You know, I hope, how much I love you, and how much I grieve with thee. I cannot comprehend the pain; I never could, but then we can never comprehend the true suffering of another. But, as always, I am here… if you need me, if you just need to talk and speak and share because you need that… I am here. My love for you.

    1. FIrst, I needed to hide from this a bit. Because I know you grieve with me, and you have from the first. You were here when it was all raw and new and I had no idea how to live with it.

      It’s gotten – I don’t think easier is the word. Less jagged, maybe? More like a river pebble than a piece of shale freshly broken…

      I know you’re here. And it helps. ❤

      1. Less jagged…. But even the smoothest stone hurts your whole body and affects how you function when it’s there, at the bottom of your shoe…. (I know, bad analogy)

        1. The bottom of your shoe; the bottom of your soul…not such a bad analogy, at that.

          And, more, you are very right.

          Less jagged. But always there, And, at this time of the year, impossible not to be a bit bruised by, here and there, when I set my foot wrong….

  2. Shan, I love this tribute to Elijah, and the ritual you have with Miah and Lise. I cannot imagine losing a child, but I believe you express the loss excruciatingly well. My father did not talk often about losing my brother, but when he did, he struggled with acceptance of it.

    Big hugs for your passage through Elijah days.

    1. Our rituals have changed over the years, as they grow and evolve deeper understanding. There have been some years where the day passed almost without mention, and that’s OK, too. Jim doesn’t care to dwell on it – it’s harder for him if he does.

      I wish that I didn’t know what it feels like – but there’s no way out but through, every year. Every journey is a little different…but it’s the learning to accept both the OK moments and the ones that break me wide open, that has helped the most…

      Thank you for the hugs – much appreciated. Today is a good day – the day we celebrate Annalise, who made us as complete a family as we can ever be! ❤

    1. Thank you, Theresa. Somewhere, in another part of the country, there’s a teenaged girl whose life was hopefully greatly improved by his heart valves. That brings a certain amount of peace with his death.

  3. That’s a lovely poem in honor of your son. I also love that it’s freeverse poetry, which has so much more potential to express emotion than poetry which insists on rhyming.

    I don’t have it on my computer, but I love a photograph of me sitting next to my great-grandmother Alice on the davenport at my paternal grandparents’ house. I was about two years old, wearing a yellow dress, and looking at a book or magazine, while Alice sat beside me and also read. She passed on when I wasn’t yet two and a half, so I can’t remember her, but I’m told she was very fond of me since I sat quietly and looked at books instead of being a hyperactive toddler. She was such a wonderful mother, aunt, and grandmother, and must’ve been a wonderful great-grandmother to me in the short time we had. My grandmother, who’s also in the other world now, said her mother never said an unkind, cruel word about anyone, taught her and her three siblings to value their faith in God, and was the parent they always came to when they had a problem. Alice’s husband was a whole other story, though I won’t speak ill of the dead when he’s not here to defend himself.

    If I ever have a daughter, I’d love to give her the middle name Alice, in honor of my great-grandmother. For awhile, I wanted to use that as the forename, but then I realized how old I’m getting and that I’ll probably only have one chance to give a daughter my favoritest female name, Anastasiya. It flows really well with Alice as a middle name.

    1. Thank you. I sometimes play with rhyme schemes, but they didn’t work for this poem, or for the ones I wrote for Miah or Lise, either.

      I love your story of your great-grandmother Alice, and your treasured photo of a wonderful woman.

      My parents have one of me, at about the same age as you were, sitting on my Uncle Bill’s lap. He was the friendliest and kindest of my father’s siblings, but lived in South Carolina, so I didn’t see him much. He was murdered when I was eight.

      Anastasiya Alice has a lovely flow. I’m rather partial to Annalise Sedona, myself. May you have the chance to bless a daughter not only with a unique name, but also the gift of the thoughtful, deeply caring mother I know you’ll be.

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