I have the app, Time Hop, on my phone. It’s an app that is synced with your photos, facebook and other social media. It pulls up all photos or posts that you made on a certain day. So you get to relive all the ups and downs that ever happened on a specific date. It’s a good thing and a bad thing to have this app. I get to relive my favorite moments with family and friends and I relive some of my lowest days as I went through my divorce and other tough days. I love looking at old pictures the girls when they were so little and the things they use to do that made us laugh or cry. But occasionally a picture of Courtney comes up like the ones I shared above that make me both smile and cry. (Side note…Kelly, if you are reading this, you always do such an amazing job capturing pictures of the girls!) I smile because honestly, how beautiful is that face? And those eyes!!!! They are daggers!!! But why do I want to cry when I see this picture?
I’ve talked about it before, but Courtney was developing right on track and then started to regress sometime between the age of 1 and 2 years old. It was so hard to watch. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I feel pictures from that time are just so telling. I see pictures from before the regression where she looks so connected with our world and then pictures like the ones above where she is no where to be found in those beautiful eyes. In these pictures you can almost see how they are looking right past you and not connecting with you. My sister Kelly (also known as my amazing photographer), another family member and I were chatting not too long ago about when I really knew Courtney had autism. I explained how I can tell the timeline just looking at old pictures of her. My “photographer” said she can too.
The memory these pictures also triggered is the health issues we were dealing with around the time these pictures were taken. The fall of when she turned two, Courtney went through this horrible phase that I often describe as very similar to when she was a colicky infant. On and off moments of unconsolable crying. I remember my dad calling me at school saying that my mom just couldn’t comfort her. I broke down into tears asking, “what is wrong with my little girl?” I was already noticing red flags at this point but this is where it became evident as whatever skills she hadn’t lost yet disappeared.
As these pictures appear in my “time hop”, I’ll have a moment, but then I think about where she is now. I look at recent pictures and see how happy she is and think about the progress she has made over the past 4 years. I am so incredibly proud of every little step she has made. Those eyes are still daggers and sometimes they still stare right through you as if she doesn’t even notice you are there. But when those big blue eyes do connect with you, watch out, your heart will melt. Yes, these pictures are so telling. They tell me about the ups and downs we have gone through in this journey. But most of all, they remind me of the beautiful, strong, little girl that I’m lucky to have as my daughter.