Who is that lady?…. I’m not her anymore.
Scattered throughout my home are lovely photographs of the life I lived, loved, and lost. Hilarious moments as a so in love young couple and pair of new parents. Our first chances to be photographed as a family of three and then with a new baby made four. Portrait backgrounds displaying the mountains, beaches and attractions where we whisked away on many a restful weekend away or zany adventure.
When life was good and right, looking upon our collection of photographed memories brought a sense of true pride and ear to ear grins. Looking would create an overflow of praise to God for the unspeakably wonderful gift of love, marriage, motherhood, and family. But that was then, when life WAS good, and this is now…..a new reality far far less than the definition of “good” I once used to describe my life.
Now in my grief, on some days, I catch brief glances of these precious portraits and that’s all I can take. Pain stabs my heart like a dagger, I look away and walk forward, choking back the tears. Other days I stand before them, caress the face of my beloved and so desperately long to caress his real cheek just one more time, and I let the tears flow. And of course, the days of lingered longing, staring, remembering and wishing it were possible to peel back the paper image I see and climb back in time to when life was “normal,” and “complete” and happiness and contentment reigned.
Then there are those strange times in which I see the photographs and it is almost as though I don’t even recognize the people within them. Who is that young lady? Smiling, happy, without a care. Living out a dream for true love she held deep in her heart since she was a small child. So in love and so loved by such a special man. What a stark contrast to the present . How devastating it is to realize that I am now looking at who Dorothy was … and she will never be that version of herself ever again.
Oh how I want to be that me again. I want to live like that woman in the photo once lived. Things seemed so much more stable then. Hopeful. Purposeful. Whole. God seemed so different then, though I know based on scripture he was the same yesterday, as he is today, and as he will be in all of my tomorrows. But then why does he seem so different? I want to feel the positive feelings from that pictured life with all the parts and pieces in their rightful proper fit and serving their proper functions.
It is amazing how we assign emotion to photographs. We see a picture and instantly remember the exact way we felt the moment that the photo was taken and sometimes we might even remember some of the things floating through our heads while we were posing and “saying cheese.” I wonder what I’ll look back and remember in 10 years when I look back on photos of just my children and I living out as bravely as possible our “new normal?” It is my prayer that at some future point, this life I’ve been given but didn’t choose will become a new, yet different type of beautiful worthy of a special place in our family’s gallery of memories.
What photographs from your life before loss do you cherish?
How are you learning to find joy in the story you are actually living?
In Hope & Prayers,
This Widow Mama