Day 1,442

When I woke up Sunday morning I felt that same old trepidation.
Rolling over there was my son.
Breathing softly.
I watched the rise and fall of his chest as rays of sunlight swept across my bedroom.
Highlighting dust floating the air and reflecting off of tchotchkes lining my window sill.
The purple brontosaurs stuffed with an unkillable purple succulent.
It looks so healthy in this light.
Truly the whole world feels different in this light overall.

Taking a deep breath I get up.
“Go make breakfast Jess. The kids will want to eat and you should too.” I say out loud causing Aj to grumble and pull the covers over his head.
He unlike me does not appreciate the morning sun.
I think that comes with age right?
Maybe with stress?

I walk to my nightstand and slide on my wedding ring.
This is a blessing to be able to do.
I had thought I lost my ring.
Even asked a medium!
Then three weeks after she assured me it was not lost it fell literally from the ceiling in my closet.

As the stairs squeak beneath my feet I spin it around my finger.
I can’t help but feel like the polish all over my fingers.
Slopped about.
Knowing it looks messy now but will be fine once cleaned up a little.
I wonder if I look like this polish to most or if they can only see the cleaned version.
I am anxious but aware.

Again I am greeted by sun streaming into my kitchen.
Within minutes this room is filled with the noise of bacon sizzling and coffee brewing.
Sevvy dancing in around my feet so excited to have breakfast himself.
“Meow. Meeeeeeeeow. MEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!”

There is a special place while cooking that I can tune out all else and focus.
I am grateful for this space.
While many times difficult to achieve it is as I stand against the counter I can sift through my mind to find that which is troubling me.

Memories flood.
I knew they would.
We are closing in on D-day.
I remembered the sound of his laugh.
The way he would tell me we can never have TOO many pancakes as he made his special “Big Breakfast”
The smell of his pillow.
I still have that pillow in one of those vacuum sealed bags in the hopes of keeping that smell longer.
The tears started flowing.
This time not in pain but in an acknowledgement of his lasting impact.
I stood cooking, drinking coffee, and softly crying for the next half hour or so.
Only until I heard tiny elephant steps to the bathroom above my head.
Soon I would have to make a magical reality for more than just me.
Thank goodness, without them I would be lost at sea.

“Good Morning Mama.” Izzy whispers
Her long curls tousled on top of her head and rubbing her eyes.
“Today I get to be a princess?!”
“Yes baby, after your breakfast we’ll take a bath and get ready!”
She climbs on the couch to love on our kitten.

This particular morning I am so aware, of everything.
I place the dishes on the table and we talk about what to do with Sissy’s hair.
What shoes Aj will wear.
Not to have a snack once the nice clothes are on.
They run off to watch cartoons or do puzzles after eating pancakes in record time!

Finishing my coffee alone at the table the tears come again.
This is big day for me.
Something six months in the making and years to work up courage towards.
Looking down there is my ring again.
Sparkling in the sunlight.
I want to wear it today.
I want it in the pictures.
I want Dave close.

I cry without the kids noticing all the way through my shower.
Nothing horrible or debilitating just steady streams streaking down my face.
It was while watching the soap spin around the drain I knew I would wear my ring.
I didn’t care if it was weird.
Or if others understood.
To me it felt complete and like at least part of Dave was there.
At nearly four years out I still am consistently unsure of the next right action.

I played with my ring the whole way to the field we shot in.
I debated on maybe taking it off last minute.
Maybe it’s a disservice to myself and the kids.
What if the photographer says something?
Will I lie?
Would I just sob?
We arrived to a smiley and laid back Mom just like me.
She lead us out across the grass to get the right lighting.
I am pretty sure I just blurted out in the first few minutes I was a widow.
And you know what?
That was it.
I said it and felt free.
Little did she realize how something in passing had been affecting my entire being.

When part of your family looks different it’s hard to not feel less than.
Or like a fraud.
I think part of me thought she would shame me.
I wish I knew why I live in fear of never being enough,
In all aspects of my life.
Did I really believe a stranger would tell me I couldn’t take family pictures if I wasn’t a family?
Yes! I did……. It’s so sad pulling the lies I tell myself out.

We then started shooting.
I hoped and prayed they would turn out decent
Passable at best since I was a “fraud” in my own mind.
I had after all only done this for family so if they are terrible I will hide them away and no one will know I am a failure with an incomplete life.

The kids were great!
They listened.
And played.
Barely complained.
Never even fought.
I felt good about the experience.

“I’ll send a sneak peek tonight!” Emily yelled as I packed up the car proud I had made it through without getting overly emotional.
As you well know emotions for me are like Russian Roulette.
Sometimes I am fine and sometimes I am not.
There is no controlling grief.

When I tell you the sneak peek changed my life I NEED you to hear this.
As I looked at the screen I saw three resilient individuals.
I saw my kids genuinely smiling.
I saw myself not faking for once.
I saw a “complete” family.

I wish I could explain the ripple effect this realization has in my life but I think Emily captured it perfectly. Thank you for shedding such light on my monsters in the dark ❤️

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