I have held onto this photo for nearly 9 months now, unable to let it out of the privacy of my phone because it was the last photo I’d ever taken of him, at 3:15pm on July 2nd. The last day of his life.
I had been testing out new patterns for apparel and he was a willing model, he was so proud of it that I just had to take a photo. It took me months to find the ability to be able to laugh about that again.
Mostly what I see in this photo is everything around him. The hallway Justin would run down when he heard me scream his name. That counter behind him would be the place Justin and two neighbors attempted several rounds of CPR. That couch is where Rowan sat and watched as we tried desperately to bring his his baby brother back. That ottoman would be where the paramedics tearfully laid his lifeless body after making the call that there was nothing more that could be done. That throw blanket was draped carefully over his body in their effort to show respect. It’s where his stillness, his emptiness, would be lying when I was brought back into the room after being told what we already knew, it was too late. The shape of his small unmoving being clearly visible underneath it. Its where I would end up crouching down and throwing my own body on top of his, sobbing. Air would escape his throat, left from the rounds of CPR, but sounding almost like one of his sweet sleeping coos.
This room is where everyone stood, medics, firefighters, chaplains, family. All of them silently weeping as they watched me in agony over my baby. The magnitude of the situation was not lost on a single soul in that room, that day. A place that would never again feel like home. All of those things that would never again feel in-adamant, but instead trigger haunting and unrelenting pain as if they themselves hold the entirety of what happened that day.
We don’t live there anymore. We gave away those couches. That ottoman sits wrapped in a sheet in our garage. The throw blanket neatly folded, never to be washed again. This photo is all of it, it is everything and nothing all at once. His last.