Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Photographic Memory

Pictures freeze more than time.

They can instantly transport you not only to a physical place, but an emotional state. When you think about it, that's incredible. Preserving memories visually is a completely different dimension of remembering.

I remember my freshman year of college, meeting my family after my first pops concert dressed as Rafiki the baboon, face smeared in blue, black and red. I remember being certain Tarah, not even two at the time, would be terrified and not recognize me. I remember the elated feeling when she not only recognized me, but came running down the aisle of the auditorium, right into my arms. I'll remember that forever. My photo, her little arms wrapped around my neck, me in my Rafiki garb, is what triggers that story.

Christmas 2007: Tarah bravely embarks on a Christmas tree-finding expedition at a tree farm near our house. She sallies forth, in front of all of us, blazing the trail, all two feet of her. I have a photograph of her marching into a sea of evergreen trees, her little self right in the center, fearless. That photo, to me, embodies her unflinching bravery, through so much, for so long.

A photo standing on its own can be aesthetically pleasing, absolutely. But without a story it really doesn't mean much. I think every photo does have a story...somewhere.

Tarah's stories are endless, and so are the photos. I'm so glad I was so trigger happy (and still am), especially while she was with us. Those memories would've been in my head forever, but the photos preserve a unique dimension of the memories.

Yesterday I was paging through my profile photos and came across a photo of Tarah and me. We were sitting at our computer desk, playing with the newly-installed webcam. Adam, sitting on the other end in College Station, Texas, had installed it for us the last time he'd been home and we wanted to try it out.

Tarah wasn't allowed out of bed much because she needed to be hooked up to oxygen, but Mom decided that for the special occasion of talking to Adam, we could give her a little break. So, we sat at the computer and had the time of our lives. We marveled at being able to talk to Adam half way across the country. We relished the limited free time Tarah had from her tubes. And we made silly faces in the webcam because we thought it was so cool that we could see ourselves.

As I looked at this photo yesterday, I realized the date was 3/14/2008. Exactly three years ago to the day. Almost to the hour, too. That realization hit me like a ton of bricks. Just down the hall in Dad's office, from where I sat looking at the photo, was where we were sitting, three years ago, goofing off. Just three years ago. Three whole years ago. I can't even describe the feeling, but I can tell you it was overwhelming. I miss her so much, but I'm so thankful I have those photos, and more importantly, the memories.

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