When Mom was a little girl her mother took her to a department store to buy her a fancy dress. She found a black velvet dress with a purple puffed skirt and fell in love. When they brought it to the register, the clerk looked at her mother and said conspiratorially, “Oh, she must be in the pink and purple stage.” Ooooo, did mom ever get angry. She HATED pink. And she told the clerk just that. She just happened to have a love of purple. When she grew up, she collected kitchen utensils in the color purple and hung a big purple polka dotted painting above her bed. When she found out you were coming, she hung that painting in your room. Mom loved the color purple.
Mom always thought she’d dress her daughter in gender neutral clothes. She had grown up a tomboy and still didn’t really like the color pink. But when she found out you had Down Syndrome, she decided that if you were a girl, she’d dress you in super girly clothes. She wanted the first thing people noticed about you to be how you were such a cute baby girl, not how you were a baby with Down Syndrome. She would allow you some pink, but envisioned a wardrobe full of bold purples.
When you were born, Dad was supposed to announce your gender, but as the midwife held your bottom up for him to see he could barely tell what he was looking at. So Mom piped up “A girl!” She knew you were a girl the moment she saw your face- you just looked like a girl. Mom saw purple in your future.
Later, as you lay on the warmer in the big NICU room, Mom watched your oxygen levels begin to drop. Your pink color drained into a pretty shade of purple. Too pretty for a baby. Your skin was a mesh of newborn pink and air-hunger blue, swirling together to make a shade of purple meant for eggplants and flowers, not a little girl. The nurse quickly put you on Mom’s chest and everyone watched in utter amazement as the unthinkable happened. You pinked up. The purple hue, telling us just how oxygen deprived you were, drained away as your skin met hers. Your Mom felt like at last she could do something to help you. Her warmth, her heartbeat, her mothering could melt away the purple.
Eventually skin to skin failed to keep away the purple. Mom thought about how much she actually liked pink afterall and silently vowed to surrender to dressing you in pink clothes if it would keep you pink. Mom and Dad knew you were struggling. It hurt to be so purple. They wanted to take away the pain so they had the doctor take out the vent. They held you as you turned your final shades of purple.
Days after you died, when she looked at photos of you and your purple little self, Mom hit the edit button again and again, lightening the colors so when she showed your beautiful face, people would see YOU before they saw the purple.
Mom loved the color purple. She wished it didn’t suit you so well.