Friday, 22 October 2010


A photograph that makes me happy and a photograph that makes me angry or sad.

Turns out that I can tick all of these boxes by looking at the same photograph.

I have quite a few photographs of Georgina.
Some were taken whilst she was still alive, her eyes are open in a few.
Some were taken whilst she was dying, I am holding her or my husband is holding her. I have no idea at all who took these photographs. I have no recollection of anyone taking them, although in a rather surreal one I am smiling at the camera with my dying daughter on my lap.
Some were taken after her death, I think. Some I'm not sure if she is living or dead or changing between the two. Caught in transition.
I wish I'd asked them not to photograph us. I wish I'd asked some of the people that were there to leave.
There are even a few where it has been a process of elimination to work out which twin the photograph is actually of, Georgina or Jessica.

None of these images are 'good' photographs.
Some are computer print outs with cute cartoon borders. Incongruous to frame such a beautiful and painful image with little cartoon rattles.
Some are black and white, processed by the hospital laboratory. They are very fuzzy. Her blood appears black and the definition of her mouth has been lost. It looks strangely large and smeared.

I don't look at Georgina's photographs often.
I don't have any photographs of Georgina out on display around the house.
I don't show them to anyone.
Even those where she is alive.

I just find those images too. . . .overwhelming.
They make me feel happy, angry and sad. They make me feel everything that I can feel.
Every nerve is stretched, reaching for something, although heaven alone knows what.

They make me feel so tender.

Tender for my little girl. I push my finger down the computer print outs of her limbs and press my lips on to that after impression of her face. It is hard to believe that she was ever real, with a beating heart, with a brain that fizzled and thought.

I miss you. I love you. You tried so hard and I am so proud of you. My girl. My tiny Georgie girl.

Sometimes I feel as though the love I feel is not for my Georgina but for another child, one that I have imagined. But I look at these photographs and I know that it isn't. Not really. I love her. In that tiny, bruised body, that corporeal presence that I miss so dearly not just some imagined spirit, the little frame that I wanted to nuture, that I wanted to see grow, although every organ was collapsing on her from the moment she was born. I loved all of her, the bits that worked, the parts that didn't. I wish my love could have held her together.

And I feel tender for myself. When I look at these photographs I feel like one giant bruise. I don't want anyone to touch me. I don't want anyone to speak. I don't want anyone to look at them and feel sorry for us, or to think that she isn't a person, or that she wasn't beautiful.

I feel tender for my dear Jessica. When I look at the photographs of her and Georgina side by side, I can see how physically similar they were.

This is an old song, from long before any of this ever happened, back when I didn't really know what tender meant.

Sorry I haven't been around much lately. I just feel so tired and sad and I seem to need more sleep recently.  Edited to say that I am also happy and grateful and many, many over things. I'm making it sound worse than it is. 


  1. big hug, my dear friend, dare I say, get some rest? I wish I could blow all the sadness away.

    Maybe one day you feel like sharing a photo of Georgina. She is beautiful, she is beautiful in your heart, she is beautiful in my heart, in our memory.

  2. Oh darling girl. I wish I had the right words. I'm thinking of you and sending my love xxxx

  3. Take the time you need. Dont apologize. :)

    Sometimes, as I look at the pictures we have displayed, I feel that tenderness, that ache with all that I am. It's hard... These reminders instead of children in our arms todays.

    Sending you loving thoughts and warm hugs.

  4. I am so sorry that the photos of Georgina are so painful to look at. There are many of Jordan that make me feel the same way, video footage is especially painful. But yes, fortunately I do have some that don't sting as much. I think for me I set out to desensitise myself and thats why I insisted on having her pictures everywhere. It's kind of worked but at the same time every now and then the smack me.

    I just wanted to tell you that the photographer who did Jordan's pics and Sally's Hope's pic is in regular contact with us and he has offered to touch up photos if you ever want him to soften some pictures of Georgina for you. Even if you never show anyone, they might bring you some comfort.

    Sending many hugs and much love,

  5. I think that tenderness that you describe so powerfully, Catherine, is also what I feel for you and the other BLMs I have come to know in some way. Tenderness and love and desire to protect (odd, isn't it?). I wish I could.

  6. Tender is the right word, for all of it. And that was the perfect song to add.

    Loves. --vera

  7. I have such mixed feelings about our photos. I love them because we are smiling like mad- at each other, at the camera, at our dying boy. I want to frame them and hang them up all over our apartment. But they make me cry so hard- the sweet little boy who make our hearts so swollen with joy and love is gone. The pictures make me ache for the life we used to have, for the life we almost had.

    Love to you Catherine.