During Abigael’s senior photos, in which I played the very important role of “stuff carrier” and “runner to the car for other stuff” and “oooooer and “ahhhhhhher”, Tina grabbed this shot as I was running back from the car with a very important thing, I’m sure.
I loved seeing this picture then. I thought it felt so symbolic of our evolving relationship. As she was preparing herself to leave our home, head to college, forge her own life, and walk her own path, she was on her own, standing independently. BUT, there I was, in the background, which she didn’t even realize. Without her conscious awareness, I was right behind her cheering for her, encouraging her, caring for her, urging her forward. Shouting with every thought and every prayer for her, in every mundane text or call that we shared “Hey, I LOVE YOU!”. I was just her very own force of love, willing her to live her most authentically beautiful life.
And now. There are days when getting out of my bed feels like a Herculean task, when every single part of me aches, the world feels like a sharp, poky, painful place, and cringe at the idea of having to “people” or “adult”. There are days when I question my ability to take even that single step out of bed. And there’s not much that can take that edge off.
But I think of this picture, except now I imagine our roles reversed. Here I am in the forefront, unsure of where this crazy path called life is taking me. And she is behind me, even though I can’t see her, urging me forward, cheering me on as I try to navigate it all, shouting with each little sign that comes my way “Hey, I still love you”. Pushing me towards seeing the beauty, and with that beauty, having the ability to truly live my most authentic life.
It’s not where I thought I’d be. But I wouldn’t be here without deep, consuming love. I wouldn’t be forced to walk this path of grief if I hadn’t gotten to love her with every ounce of me for 22 years. And love is never, ever wasted.
I still believe in her. I believe that I will feel her point me in the direction of love and light. I know she’s there behind me, just beyond the point where I am aware of her physical presence.