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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Snap (09/04/08)

TITLE: Footprints and Photographs
By Leah Nichols
09/06/08


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Snap! Whrrr....

The camera hummed as it imprinted the image into its digital memory. Michelle checked the file, smiling gently as she admired her handiwork. Framed by a fleecy pink baby blanket, the tiny cherub face reflected a soft alabaster light, eyes closed as if in a peaceful sleep.

“We'll zoom out now,” Michelle whispered softly. She adjusted the frilly white dress, then lifted the camera to capture a full picture.

Snap! Whrrr....

She had never bothered to turn off the simulated “snap” sound of the camera. She liked knowing the exact moment the picture registered. Checking the image, she nodded her approval. One more would complete this set.

***

Irene leaned against the kitchen counter and beamed at her husband. “Guess what?”

“What?”

She brought out the white stick from behind her back, pointing to the solid pink line. “We're going to be parents!”


***

Snap! Whrrr....

Michelle tucked the fuzzy teddy bear into the baby's arms, then reached for the hospital's decorative birth certificate. Though not an authentic legal document, the dark purple calligraphy written on pink paperboard pleased parents nonetheless. The nursery nurse had already put the baby's footprints on the sides. Annemarie Esther Jane Miller. Quite a mouthful for someone so little! Likely they had selected a couple of their grandmothers' names to compliment the first name.

She laid the certificate next to Annemarie's head and repositioned the teddy bear. A lovely arrangement, meant to capture the essence of the baby's life.

***

Chattering ladies gathered in Irene's living room with heaping plates of food. “Did you pick a name yet?” asked one.

“Oh yes! We've decided on Annemarie. Both of us love that name.”

She ran her hand along her perfectly rounded tummy. Twenty-six weeks already! With the nursery nearly completed, all the gifts from family and friends further built the excitement in waiting for their first and longed-for child.


***

Snap! Whrrr....

Dark red freshly cut roses poked out of a vase on the nursery counter. Michelle selected one and wrapped the stem in a strip of cloth. She pressed it into the perfect little hand.

Next, she added the personal touch requested by Irene and Tim. The bright gold pocket watch was a family heirloom passed down from his great-great-grandfather. Looping the chain around the stem, she tucked it into the tiny fingers. Beautiful!

***

Julie greeted Irene as she entered the birthing room. “Welcome! How are you feeling?”

“So excited!” Irene exclaimed. “My water broke like a half-hour ago. I haven't felt contractions yet, and I know it's going to be hard, but I just can't help being excited to finally have this baby!”

“I can see you've brought your own birthing ball, your own linens, even bubble bath!” Julie readied the monitor. “Why don't we find the baby's heart rate, and then you can walk around a bit until your contractions start.”


***

Snap! Whrrr....

Michelle gathered up the teddy bear, birth certificate, watch, rose, and white dress. One of the nurses painted beautiful round boxes in which to place mementos of babies, so she selected a large white one with pink roses on the sides. She gently placed each item into the box.

Turning her attention back to Annemarie, she gently swaddled the baby in the pink blanket and laid her in the crib. Maybe just one more picture.

***

Irene looked at Julie, fear reflecting in her face. “Is everything okay?”

Julie spoke calmly. “Normally I would have found Annemarie's heart rate by now. I am going to have to call for Dr. Johnson. He will use the ultrasound so we can confirm exactly what is going on.” She looked into Irene's eyes. “I'm not going to lie to you, Irene. I cannot find the heart rate, so it is very possible that we may be facing the loss of your baby.”


***

Snap! Whrrr....

Final pictures taken, Michelle gently covered the crib with a large pink blanket. She often found it difficult to explain to others the importance of her job, but she knew that the work she did made a huge difference to parents facing the greatest trial of their lives. Even a simple photograph could give comfort, bringing validation to their grief and reminding them of their precious child. Each “snap” had great meaning, for it called to remembrance a life.

Rest, Annemarie, and may your parents find comfort in this time.

-------

Dedicated to my friends Tara and Kevin, who surrendered their precious baby girl to Jesus on September 1, 2008.


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This article has been read 807 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Robyn Burke09/11/08
Bittersweet and tender. I like how you told the story through past and present voices.
Yvonne Blake 09/11/08
Ohhhh...you made me cry!
This is so beautiful and sad.
*THIS SPARKLES*
Joshua Janoski09/12/08
So sad and beautiful at the same time. That would be such a hard job. Your ending surprised me. I was not expecting that.

I really enjoyed the transitions between the past and the present moments. I wish the story could have had a happy ending, but sadly this happens all too often in real life. You did a beautiful job of capturing the beauty of the baby and the sadness of the loss
Valarie Sullivan09/12/08
Dignity and compassion. Beautiful!
Nice the way the past and present transitioned.
Loved it!
Shelley Ledfors 09/15/08
Absolutely (though sadly) beautiful! You did a wonderful job on this piece. I did suspect the outcome in the first paragraph, in the phrase "as if in sleep".

Very well done, and may the Lord comfort your friends.
Celeste Ammirata09/15/08
How bittersweet. You did a wonderful job of switching from flashbacks to present. Michelle's work is sad, but God bless her for it.
Very well written. And may God comfort your friends in their loss.
Beth LaBuff 09/15/08
You've done a wonderful job of taking us to past and present events in this heart-breaking story. This is so creative and excellent writing, wow! I read about a lady that takes donated wedding gowns and makes infant clothes for still-born babies (it's quite a ministry).
Kristen Hester09/15/08
This is very well written. I did suspect the end about half way through, but it didn't take away from this wonderful tribute at all. You did an excellent job here. Loved the flashbacks to help tell the story.
Karlene Jacobsen 09/16/08
I suspected the end about the middle, but still hoped I was wrong. This is beautiful.

It is a bittersweet job, and an awesome ministry.
Kristi Peifer09/16/08
Very powerful. Painful and poignant all at the same time.
Beckie Stewart09/17/08
It didn't take me long to figure what was coming and the immense importance of each snap for these parents. Having a friend go through just this several years ago, this truly captured everything about this time in their life.
Sharlyn Guthrie09/17/08
How sad! I now have a large lump in my throat. You did an excellent job of setting this up and showing us, rather than simply telling, what was taking place.
LauraLee Shaw09/17/08
beautifully written. tugged at my heartstrings.
Scott Sheets09/18/08
Very powerfully written! Such a difficult challenge for parents to deal with. My prayers are with your friends as they grieve through their loss.
Joshua Janoski09/18/08
Editor's Choice already! Woohoo! You go girl! :)
Celeste Ammirata09/18/08
Congratulations for taking first place at beginners level and fifth place overall. God Bless
LauraLee Shaw09/18/08
Congratulations on your Editor's Choice! ;)
Chely Roach09/18/08
This was beautiful...I hope that it blesses your friends, and many more. Congratulations.
HQ Creston09/19/08
I've had to do this a time or two, and you really have captured the scene well. Thank you so much for sharing.
Patricia Turner09/19/08
What a beautiful and haunting story from the first hint "as if peacefully sleeping" to the inevitable and touching conclusion. What a nice ministry idea too. Congratulations on your very well deserved 1st place win!
Daniel Owino Ogweno09/24/08
How sad! If only such stories were not reflecting the bitter reality that mixes up in life! I love babies so much that I get devastated when something like this heppens to one.
Gerald Shuler 11/10/08
Snap, whrrr.... this is now a picture I will never forget. Well done.