Anyway, I am completing the first week. This week focuses on self portraits. I was to take a few pictures of myself that showed how I felt following my loss. Then, I am to write a letter to my daughter explaining those emotions. I've written several letters to Kenley already - and I explain my emotions almost daily in my blog. So, what I am going to do is to post these pictures in dedication to Kenley and write her a letter telling her (and you) why I chose to take them.
It's been four months since you left me, empty and broken. The cloud of grief that surrounds me isn't as thick as it used to be. I can see through the haze to the outside world, but I am still cloaked in sadness. I still miss you more than anything I could imagine. I know for certain I always will. You were a part of me. A part of my body, of my heart, and of my soul. In some ways, you still are, but it is not nearly enough. There are still some roads deep inside me that I still do not venture down. There are still some dark places I have yet to bring light back to. There are still moments where I have to calm the rising storm of sobs that swell within me. No matter what I do or how I try to heal, I am still sad. I still mourn for you, baby girl. I still ache for you. I still feel sometimes that I cannot live without you. I still feel hollow inside. A hollow shell filled only with the sloshing water of a million tears. I tried to capture those feelings of sorrow in this picture.
You're in this picture too, my little ninja. A little owl I wear around my neck at all times. You are always, always with me. I just wish you were here in my arms instead of a tiny charm on a chain. I wish you were in your nursery, laughing and squealing. I'd even love you to be screaming and crying and pitching a fit. I would gladly have you colicky at three a.m. just to have you here. I hate that you are gone. I never knew how much I could love until I felt you growing inside of me. I never knew how much a heart could split open and spill out with such raw force. Everyone has good days and bad days, but until I lost you, I could not have ever imagined just how terrible my days could get. The person in this picture is a patchwork of missing pieces. She is not whole, nor does she aspire to be. She knows that she will never be whole again. What she strives for instead is a life where the pieces that are left come together in some sort of working order. She aspires to make change and do good in spite of the chasm left behind. She aspires to be the person worthy of being your mother.
When you died, I felt like my entire life derailed like a runaway train. Screeching wheels, ripping metal. The moment I found out you were gone, my world split into two. One world where I live now - and one world where I could have lived with you. I feel like I have been torn away from the life I was supposed to lead. Carried away against my will, my arms stretched out before me - reaching and grabbing at you as you disappear from view. Sometimes, mostly when I see other mothers with their babies, I think about that life we should have had. The life where you showed that cord who was boss. The life where I get to hold you and love you. The life where your father has his little girl. This next self portrait is of me in those quiet moments where I think about what was supposed to happen. The glimpse of a life I so badly wanted - and is not mine to have.
If you look closely, you can see the reflection of my fingers in the glass. Those faint images represent the other me. The me I can't be. The me who doesn't exist because you are gone. But the me I miss almost as much as I miss you.
Every life is nothing more than a series of defining events. Had you lived, you would have had several milestones. Your first everything - from tooth to kiss. You would have gone to college. You might have gotten married and had children of your own. Your mama was a late bloomer. I didn't really have very many "oh my goodness, this is huge!" moments in my life for quite a while. One of those moments was my wedding day. The other was your baby shower. On both of those days, I wore the same shoes. I have never worn these shoes on any other day. There's really no special significance to this. I wore them on my wedding day because they were comfortable - and to your baby shower for the same reason. Plus, they matched. The initial reasons are not important. But, now these shoes symbolize the start of something wonderful. My marriage to your father - and becoming your mother. Even though there is sadness woven through my motherhood, I still stand strong. I am still your mother even though you are not here. I still love you even though you are gone.
I don't know what the future holds for me, baby girl. I want to think that I am creating some sort of meaning for your death. I want to think I am making myself a better person than I was. I am trying so hard to hold myself together in spite of it all. I have never tried harder at anything in my entire life. Some days, I think I am doing a pretty good job. Other days, it's all I can do to just get out of bed. But know, that whatever happens in my life, however much I change or grow or learn - a few things will stay the same. How much I love you. How much I miss you. And how much I think about you - every day.
I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living...my baby you'll be.