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Mom, By Memory

She won't know what she smelled like as I rocked her to sleep in her penguin jammies last night or how the weight of her body felt in my lap. As I look at photos of those twenty angelic faces, my heart shatters to think of the parents who are left only with their memories.
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I'm trying to hold on to everything, including the idea that holding on to everything is actually possible.

That sentence meant something very different to me when wrote it early last week. I'd been dealing with the mom-wrenching realization that if, for some unfathomable reason, I was no longer with my daughter the way I am now, she wouldn't remember me. I'd be a face in some pictures. I'd be just an idea.

And I'd been thinking about how hard I'm fighting to not let that happen.

She is not walking yet, much less logging into the email account I started for her months before she was born. I blog. I faithfully fill in her baby book. I assume my Facebook friends are interested in reading about her quirks, her firsts, her Big Moments. I try to capture every single moment in a picture. Or two thousand. I saved the cupcake suit she came home from the hospital in. One of her itty bitty preemie diapers. A nurse's handwritten instructions to clear up her baby acne. The paper hat from her first birthday party. Every memento gets squirreled away into the wrinkled pink bag in her closet. And like so many other proud parents, I videotape bath time, bouncing in the jumper, snoring, crawling, giggling and dinner time. Maybe less like other parents, I even recorded the up and down spikes of the audio bars on her monitor handset during a bedtime tantrum so she'll know what I went through.

I hold on to it all.

I do all of this so she will inherit my memory trove one day. But the truth is, she won't. She'll hear the stories, read the baby book, see the pictures and movies. But she won't know what she smelled like as I rocked her to sleep in her penguin jammies last night. How the weight of her body felt in my lap. What the teeny depression of all that's left of her soft spot feels like when I run my finger across it. I guess those memories are just for me.

And as I look upon the photos of those twenty angelic faces, it shatters my heart to think of those parents who are left only with their memories. But how blessed they are to have them.

It's been four days. Every day that passes is one more they've gone missing their babies. Today, instead of just holding on to an idea, I hold on to my little girl. For my child, for those sweet children, for their parents... I will continue to file away new memories, each one wrapped in reverent gratitude.