There’s one big thing we’ve got stashed away here in our apartment. It’s a disposable camera, and it has undeveloped pictures of our Malina on it.

The hospital staff, as they were trained, offered to take some pictures of her body. I can completely understand how and why grieving parents would want such a thing. But at the time, it seemed sick. She’s dead – you take pictures of a live baby, not a dead one. We politely declined.

They asked again. And again, telling us that we might really regret not having pictures. The third time, I said, fine, take the damn pictures. We got the camera.

I’m no photographer, but I know a few things: the camera was a disposable thing with a flash. Those take bad pictures. I also know – God, how I wish I didn’t – what my little baby girl looked like. She looked awful. She’d been gone for a while.

(here’s where I pause, and think about what to exactly describe. but that is just too painful to share for so many reasons.)

I know the pictures won’t be good. I know the flash will be distorting… I thought the nurse was a wonderful person and very kind with us. But could she possibly take good pictures – take good final pictures of my beloved?

I have the camera still, hidden away where we won’t come across it without really trying. What on earth am I supposed to do with it? I never want to see those photos. But at the same time, I feel like I should. Maybe she won’t look as bad as I remember. But maybe she will look much worse.

We’ve spent 14 months studiously avoiding infants on television, on the street, in our imagination. In a few weeks (insert loud sound of knocking on wood) we will be facing one and, apparently, unable to look away. What then? What will those first few photographs of our second child look like? Can I ever throw away, develop, or decide what to do with that camera?

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