Ryan was here ...

My not-so-sweet nothings, mostly comprised of my feelings at losing my two-day-old son, Ryan David, to congenital heart defects, and to celebrate the arrival of Ryan's healthy little sister, Megan Elizabeth, and hopefully welcome another little miracle into our brood in July 2010.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Erasing the past?

For quite a while now, I've considered retouching my favorite picture of Ryan - the close-up that highlights his beautiful blue eyes and his tousled blonde locks. That picture, to me, captured Ryan in all his innocence, despite the complex world that enveloped him.

I see beyond all of the contraptions that were thrust upon him almost from the moment he took his first breath. Yes, I see the jungle of surgical tape, tubes and wires, too, but they aren't the only things I see anymore. But, the harsh reality is that all those things were an enormous part of his existence. Without them, we would've had even less time together.

There are times, though, that I wish I had a "normal" baby portrait of him on the wall - one that's free of the complicated web of lifelines that surrounded him during his short life. One where the majority of his precious face isn't covered in surgical tape - or one that's minus the tape, but where he's still alive.

God, the things we would've done differently, had we known that those 54 hours would be all the time we'd ever have. Sometimes, even after all the time that's passed, it's difficult to wrap my head around all of it and believe that it actually happened. That it actually happened to my beloved little Peanut.

Getting back to my original dilemma ... I don't know how I feel about retouching that photo. As much as I would love to have an uncomplicated, innocent picture of him to savor, to take those things away would be like trying to erase part of the past. Obviously, I'll never forget all the machines and monitors that sustained his little life. But, do I need to actually see those reminders every time I look at Ryan's face and relive all that happened?

Would erasing those things make him more of a fantasy rather than real, since the Ryan I knew and loved was tethered to countless machines. Or, does it matter at all. Really, does it?


  • At March 06, 2009 7:35 PM, Blogger Icantletitgo said…

    I've wondered about retouching my sons photo's too. I'd like to remove the red coloring and the patches of peeling skin that make his photo's sort of horrific. But then, that's who he was for me, that's what he looked like when he was born. Faking the photo, doesnt' really change the facts. But I've wondered the same thing...does it really matter? The things we lost mother's have to contend with.

  • At March 06, 2009 9:49 PM, Blogger Catherine said…

    I can not look at the unretouched photos of my boys. Death overpowers the entire image and I feel nothing but anger and sadness. In the pencil portraits and retouched photos, I feel love and peace. Maybe it's a fiction I need to get through each day...but I don't see anything positive in denying myself that small pleasure (since I've been denied so many others by the absence of my children). And really, if they had lived, I'd probably retouch boogers and koolaid moustaches every now and then.

  • At March 07, 2009 10:01 AM, Blogger Robyn said…

    I haven't lost a full term baby, Sherry, so I really can't tell you. But I can tell you that nothing can erase the past. I try to do something every day on the day I had my miscarriage. Something good and fun and in remembrance, but it doesn't help the fact that I should have an almost 5 year old, and that the stark reality is, I don't.

    What I do think is that if you want to maybe have some retouching done, then you should try it and see how you feel. Ryan will always be Ryan, wires or no wires and nothing can erase a mothers love for that child. ((HUGGSS))

  • At March 07, 2009 9:29 PM, Blogger a rogers said…

    I think(for what it's worth) you should have a "normal" picture of Ryan to cherish. Sure the tubes/lines kept him with you longer but I'm sure he'd like for his Mommy to have an untethered picture of that beautiful little face to look at too!
    Ann Rogers

  • At March 09, 2009 8:37 AM, Blogger Rosepetal said…

    I haven't retouched the photos of V, but I really don't see the harm in doing so. And I'm guessing these are digital photos, or you have copies. So the original photo is still going to be there, right?

    Why not try it and see how you feel about the retouched photo. If you don't like the feeling, then you still have the original one.


  • At March 12, 2009 11:53 AM, Blogger Jillian said…

    Sherry, I went to leave a comment here the day you posted this but erased it and thought I'd wait a few days to see what others said and let you move on a little from writing it down.

    I have retouched photos of one little angel both before and after he passed. It all depends what you start with, but we got some nice results from what we had.

    I just wanted to offer to have a go at retouching Ryan's photos if you want that. You can email me at photosbyjill[at]msn.com if you want to know anything. I know the mum won't mind me sharing before and after shots of her son with you if you'd like.

    Every mum likes a photo of her bub looking as perfect as she remembers them to be. There's no harm in wanting that for Ryan too.

  • At March 16, 2009 11:59 AM, Blogger kate said…

    This comment is pretty late, sorry!

    I had Nicolas' photo retouched & they did a good job but i do not like it. I have to think about why...i guess it negates the horror of the actual experience of birthing him. It seems fake to me, it just didn't feel right. Of course i don't display (or look at) the non-retouched version either.

    You can always do it, and then just don't display it/look at it if you end up feeling like me.

  • At March 22, 2009 3:22 PM, Blogger Jeremy & Johnna said…

    Sherry, Thanks for visiting our blog. I am praying that you find peace and direction in what is a crazy world. Our hearts are broken, as yours is, but we are comforted by the love our child will know from God in just a few short weeks. I'm praising God for holding Ryan in his hands and hope that our precious little ones will know each other in heaven. Peace be with you,


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