Just a reminder that if you’re engaged or married to a widower or even divorced from a widower, I’m looking for real life stories to share in my next book Marrying a Widower. If you’re interested in submitting, read the submission guidelines then send me an email with your story.
The hardest part of my previous life to pack up and put in storage was photos of my late daughter, Hope. There was a part of me that wanted to keep at least one of up somewhere in the first apartment Marathon Girl and I shared but, back then, I couldn’t look at the photos of her hooked up IVs, tubes, and monitors for more than a minute without my eyes filling with tears. Though Marathon Girl had no objection about hanging a photo or two of Hope in our new home, I just couldn’t do it. I was moving on. I didn’t want any reminders of events or people that might hold me back from starting a new life. The photos stayed in the box.
Even though it was a hard choice to make, I never thought twice about that decision or once regretted it. I charged ahead and fully embraced my new life. Aside from a picture of Hope at my parent’s home, there were no other visual reminders of her. And I was just fine with that.
Then back November, the family was driving home from a college football game and, much to my surprise, Marathon Girl brought up the subject.
MG: Remind me again why you don’t have any pictures of Hope up.
Me: ~Gives her a quizzical look~ That’s my past life. I’ve got five wonderful kids and their photos up instead.
MG: Have you ever thought about putting one up?
Me: ~Glances in her direction wondering why she’s asking these questions ~ I can’t stand to look at them. It makes me sad to see tiny body hooked up to life support. That’s not exactly a time in my life I like to revisit.
MG: ~ silent for a beat ~ Well what if you decided to put one up?
Me: I wouldn’t do that. Besides, it wouldn’t be fair to you.
MG: What do you mean?
Me: We haven’t had one up our entire marriage. I don’t think its right for me just to wake up one day and decide that I need to put one up eight years after the fact. I don’t want to be like those widowers people email me about who take down photos or something one day and the next day have everything back up.
MG: That’s not the same thing.
Me: It feels like it.
MG: What if I was okay with it.
Me: Still doesn’t seem fair to me.
Me: What’s up with all these questions?
MG: Nothing. It was just something I was thinking about.
Me: Care to elaborate?
MG: ~looking away~ Not right now.
Fast forward to Christmas morning. Most of the presents are unwrapped. The kids are busy playing with their new toys. There are two presents left for me to open. Marathon Girl gives me the first one. From the look on her face I think she’s going to burst into tears.
I open the present. There’s a large frame with three photos of our oldest three children’s hands. One is holding a basketball, one a football, and the other a flower.
She hands me the second present. I open it. There’s a large frame with three more photos in it. Two are of our youngest two; one is holding his favorite toy, the other (a baby) has her hands together.
The third photo is of Hope. Not the photos of her hooked up to machines that I remember. Instead it’s one that my mom took of her small fingers wrapped around my finger—one I had forgotten all about.
Marathon Girl wraps her arms around me and leans her head against mine.
Me: They’re beautiful. Thank you so much.
MG: I wasn’t sure how it would go over. I worried you might not like it after I brought up the subject last month.
Me: It’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.
MG: It seemed wrong to do this without including the hands of all your children.
Me: You’re right. All six of them make it complete.
That night we hung the photos in our living room above the piano.
I can look at all of them without crying.