A Steadfast Memory

When I was about three years old, my mother took me to her friend’s house for a party.  It might have been a birthday party or a housewarming party, or it might have just been a simple get-together.  What I am certain of is that we don’t have any pictures from that afternoon, since I’ve never seen one.  Still, one moment from that occasion remains with me, and I see that image vividly whenever I return to it, as though it were a photograph I could hold.

The bedroom is quaint with a tight area between the bed and the wooden dresser.  A baby is in the midst of the crowd that has formed in that narrow space.  One woman is carrying the baby, and I am watching it.  I am delighted to see the baby laughing.  My mother enters the room and finds me, and the baby.  She takes the baby from the woman and raises it high so that it is looking down at her and cooing at her.  I want to be lifted, too.  (Here, the image turns dull.  Did I ask my mother to pick me up, or did I just start crying about it without giving her any clues of my desire?)  Regardless, my mother is perceptive.  As I continue to wail, she tells the women in the room that I easily get jealous.  She explains to them that I want to be held, too.  Someone attempts to pick me up, but it is not she who I want.  My crying grows; I know this from the scorch at the back of my throat.  Someone suggests to my mother that she put down the baby so that she could carry me instead.  With infinite resolve, my mother shakes her head and says that she will not spoil me.  I see one woman attempt to take the baby from my mother so that my mother’s hands would be free to lift me.  My mother shifts her body so that it is shielding the baby from the lady.  Clutching the baby, my mother exits the room, with me in tow.  We are now in the kitchen, where more people are lolling around.  I can’t stop my tears or my blubbering mouth, and those people ask why I am crying.  My mother explains that I don’t like her holding other babies.  They tell her to feel some sympathy for me, but she is steadfast in her beliefs.  Without uttering a word, my mother peers down at me with the baby still in her arms, letting me know that she will never give in to me.

I believe that we are all in possession of photographs that we cannot pinch between our fingers or click on to view.  I think such a photograph is harder to rip up or delete with a button.  The colors are too vibrant, the sounds are too distinct, and the sting is too confusing.  Such a photograph is a nuisance.  I wonder if it remains with us, in the corner of where our heart and our head meet, for a purpose.  Maybe such a photograph directs us to the images we later snap of ourselves and our own children.

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