Last night, my brother emailed us photos from Easter weekend. I watched the slide show before heading for bed, smiling at the way his youngest reminds me so much of him and wishing we didn’t live so far apart. This morning I pulled Ada on my lap and we looked at them together. She loves all of her cousins and has a special bond with my brother’s oldest, who is 3 months younger than she is.
At the end of the slideshow, I clicked on another photo album from when the girls were little and gasped when I saw this photo.
I think it was taken before I was pregnant with Ben. Before I put on the additional weight from a broken leg and bed rest. Even so, I hardly recognized myself. Steve and I looked at each other as Ada piped up, “You look different mama.” He asked her what seemed different about me. She paused for half a second and replied, “Your nose!” I burst into tears and laughter at the same moment, kissing her on the head, holding her tight.
Sometimes change is so gradual we don’t see how far we’ve come in our daily lived moments. I don’t have many pictures of me from that time. I hated how I looked, how I felt, how big and tired I was all the time. After Ben died and I was 203 pounds of pain and grief, I realized accepting myself – loving myself – exactly how I was, was my path to health. But I still didn’t want any pictures taken. I wanted to remember those years with words, not photos.
In my head I know I’ve lost over 65 pounds and have kept it off for more than a year. At 41 I feel better than I have since I stopped dancing professionally at 21. When I stand in front of the mirror at Zumba or Nia class, my jaw sometimes drops at the me that looks back. Seeing myself in this picture, it was as though I traveled through time, re-experiencing the grief and healing of the last years in the space of a second.
Tonight I send a whispered, tear-stained thank you to my son, for being my biggest teacher, to my body, for thriving in spite of the scars, and to my daughter for seeing me with eyes of love. I am blessed.