Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Photographic Moments

When I see this picture I feel love. That's my dad, the tall guy on the far right. I've always been confident in how much my dad loved me and it allowed me to feel secure enough to go out into the world and find my own way. I understand that not all girls are so lucky.

When I see this picture I feel awe. Deep inside of me there's still a little girl who dreamed of becoming a mommy. More than planning a dream wedding, or finding my prince, my grown up goals revolved around having little people to love and nurture. Some days it's hard to comprehend that these tall boys are the gift I dreamed of all those years ago. Along with their sister, they have been a joy to raise. I'm in awe of their presence in my life, as well as how quickly they passed me in height.

When I see this picture, as much as I don't want it to be true, I feel longing. The person missing in this picture is my mom. She died when my oldest son was barely a toddler. She never knew about my last two babies, and didn't get to see what incredibly nice kids all four of her grand babies turned out to be. Everyone in her hometown would have known their names. She had just started her campaign to show their pictures to every person she knew, when she was swiftly taken away from us.

When I see this picture I miss her spirit. I miss the excitement she beamed every time I walked in the door. I miss the way she joyously called out my name every time I came home from college for a visit. It was like we hadn't seen each other in years. She rejoiced at my mere presence in the room.

And now I miss hers.

If she had lived she wouldn't be standing next to my dad. She'd be perched in the middle of my sons, who would all be taller than her at this point. Her smile would make a camera's flash unnecessary. She knew how to love with all her heart and she would have showered it on my kids.

My step mother is a wonderful woman. She so kindly took this picture. She takes amazing care of my dad. He'll live an extra decade because she looks after him so well. She couldn't be more loving, to me and to my children. But the reality that she understands, is that she's not my mom. She's my dad's wife, a role she handles quite well.

When I see this picture I see three boys I love being with and a dad I don't see nearly enough. I see myself, smiling for the camera, because I was truly happy to be in that spot, at that moment, surrounded by people I love. But back behind my smile there is a bit of heartache.

Because even after 17 years, when I see a picture like this, she's still missing.

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