I’m attempting to make a photo book beginning with my pregnancy and ending with Vivi’s first birthday. I’ve printed out a few photos here and there and every time I do I’m genuinely shocked that they actually look good printed out and that hey, maybe I am pretty good at this taking pictures thing. I’ve organized them fairly well, I certainly have my favorites, but it seems everyday I add new favorites. They’re nothing spectacular or magical, just our everyday life. Going to the park, doing laundry, grocery shopping…pretty boring stuff if I’m being honest. My guess is that this book will be somewhere around 400 pages and you’ll need a comfy couch, a cup of cocoa and two or three potty breaks to make it cover to cover, maybe even a nap.
There’s just so many stories in all of these photos I take. I want to surround myself with them, wallpaper my walls with them, show them to complete strangers and wear them on t-shirts.
A little over a year ago today I could barely get myself out of bed. My brain was swamped with so much muck and depression I couldn’t bring myself to use my camera let alone my words. Now I’m able to use my words and photos to pay my mortgage, pay my tithing, take care of my friends and take my husband on a cruise. (ZOMG WE’RE GOING ON A REAL TRIP FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER IN 11 YEARS WITHOUT LITTLE HUMANS.) It seems so indulgent, the things I’ve been able to do with this accidental talent, just today Cody had to remind me that if anyone deserves time together on a boat with all you can eat buffets and middle aged men with fanny packs, it’s us.
What a magical little word.
Us was almost they. As in they got divorced. They didn’t last. They broke up.
But we fought for us and we won.
It’s scary putting your whole heart and hope into something you’re not sure will hold you. Every night I take a little white crescent shaped pill and hope that it will carry me through the next day. Carry me above all the ugly I know is lurking down there at the bottom. Three years ago Cody and I traded hearts with tears across the center console of my car not entirely sure if either one of us was capable of such a grand and scary responsibility. He has held my heart with all the care and tenderness in the world and I can only hope he feels the same about me.
Every night I get on my knees and pray to someone I’ve never seen but I know is there. One year ago my prayers were filled with desperate pleadings. Please. Please let me feel better. Please make this hurt less. Please let me do better. Please give me another chance. Please take the sting of tears away from my eyes.
They are still filled with pleadings. But they are pleadings for others. Pleadings for those with sick kids, broken hearts or lonely souls. Pleadings that I will be able to do good while I am here and pleadings that I can stay. That this me, this wonderful self I haven’t ever known before can stick around, one more day, one more week, one more month. I promise to do good. I promise to make Him proud if He’ll just let this me stay.
My prayers are also filled with gratitude. Gratitude for the trials I’ve gone through, gratitude for the platform I’ve been given to share my struggles, to help others and to give words to some of the scariest emotions in existence. Gratitude for these two little healthy girls and this strong man I get to call mine. Gratitude for my house, my shutter finger, the sunshine, my cats, working kidneys and orange juice. Gratitude for new shoes, new babies and hope.
I am drinking in this phase of my life in furious gulps, hoping that by wholly immersing myself in it I’ll be strong enough to weather the storms when they come back, because they always come back. I’ve finally stopped living in fear of this phase ending, rather I have been squeezing every drop of beauty from every day until my hands are numb and weary.
“Sometimes I am convinced that you gave birth to sunshine.” -Jessi
Cody is my world, Addie kept the sun from ever setting on it and Vivi brought it back to high noon.