A photograph

There’s a picture that sits above my tv of two beautiful girls from 2008. The picture holds so much emotion I can only begin to describe it in words. The young girl in the picture is smiling ear to ear, she’s young, beautiful and full of so much happiness her eyes twinkle. She’s held close by a young lady who looks full of happiness, love and beauty. Upon first view of the photo you see nothing but happiness. Both wearing white gowns, hair done beautifully, make up painted on like a picture, yet there is more to this picture than meets the eye.

The happiness of the day radiates throughout the picture and there is no mistake this is a wedding day for one of the girls. One inherits a beautiful and loving husband while the other acquires an amazing father figure; a man that couldn’t be more perfect as a role model, father, and friend. You can almost feel the happiness emerging from one simple framed snapshot. The little girl’s eyes gleam with joy. She’s so full of love and excitement at the new chapter in her life, of becoming a real family for the first time in the 6 years of her existence. You can see the possibilities that lie ahead in the hopes and dreams that will undoubtedly emerge. You can feel the love between the two in the picture. No sadness to be noticed. In the lady lies all the hopes and dreams she’s ever had for the future. She feels as though it’s a fairy tail and there’s not a chance this can really be happening. If we were to read her mind or look in to her soul, you would see that she never imagined she’d be married to such a wonderful and perfect man in her entire life. All the past failed relationship, heartbreak, and sadness have all come down to this one moment of forever.

But something lingers as we look at the picture 10 years later. Knowing what we do now it’s hard to not see it. You see deep within this woman is a heart that has been damage by so much negative in her life, a soul that has the inability to allow herself to be loved this way, and a mind that hasn’t forgotten all the damage done of past years. This woman is broken inside. She loves the man, no doubt, with all her being. But something, something lingers there that will destroy what this happy, once thought impossible day has enabled to happen. There’s doubt hiding within like a villain lurking in the dark shadows of an alleyway in a movie. The doubt and insecurities will one day take their toll on what once was a happy marriage. The demons that hide within will emerge and get the best of the happy couple despite numerous efforts to prevail in together . The once happy girl will be saddened by the failures of her mother, of the man who once was her step father. She will be torn apart inside, unsure of how to feel about anyone or anything. She will act out and deep down resent her mom for not succeeding at the one thing she promised not only her but the man who became her stepfather, a life of happiness, love and marriage. Will she ever be able to forgive her mother for this? Only time will tell.

The smiles we see in the photograph will eventually fade. The heartache, hardships, and self destruction will run rampant throughout the woman. She will battle for years trying to find herself again, trying to make sense of what became the inevitable. Only to find no answers. She will cling to memories that once made her happy but now only bring her pain, frustrations, and self-blame. She will see how her malfunctions prevented her to be loved, to love, and to be happy. She will see how he did everything he could before there was nothing left to do but walk away; walking away with some dignity, the little that remained in him as a man. Oh but that picture, it will sit above the tv in her living room until time stands still. She will look upon it with sad eyes, a heavy heart, and think about that day with such regret. She will think about the flowers he sent to her the morning of their special day. She will remember putting on the white dress that made her feel like a princess, stepping out of the hotel room, climbing into the limo and excitedly waiting to arrive at the hotel venue where they would say their vows. She will remember the eyes of those passing by, the smiles they gave, the love they surely felt on such an amazing day. The walk up the stairs to the open balcony where quiet and mildly distant music swam through the air. The smile holding back the tears on her fathers face as he handed her the handkerchief that belonged to his mother, her grandmother. She will remember how hard it was to fight back those tears that came readily when she looked into her father’s eyes. Her one wish had been granted, to have her father walk her down the aisle. The memory of walking through one set of glass doors to the next, nervous, excited and impatiently waiting to see the guests that had been seated, her future standing in the sunlight on that balcony, smiling back at her with twinkling blue eyes. She will tell herself “this is it, this is the moment I’ve been waiting for my whole life, the moment I never dreamt possible”. The music will change to a wedding tune, echoing off the surrounding building tops, life continuing below, busy and joyfully. She will wait until the last person is seated and watch as the bridesmaids walk ahead of her toward her future husband. The happy yet shy small child will walk ahead of her to the makeshift alter, gleaming with joy at the event that’s about to finally take place. One last look at her father, with a smile holding back tears it’s her turn to walk to her loving fate. Those few steps to the Pastor feel like a mile, but she arrives, still smiling, feeling the Summer sun beat down upon her, tears welling up as she looks at the man she’s about to marry. Her dad gives her away choking back tears and takes his seat. The couple in love take each other’s hands and smile. She tries to brush away the tears but they’re still fighting their way out of each eye.

As time stands still for a moment, nothing seems real. The guests from half way across the world couldn’t really be there, could they? The dress, flowers, perfect day…can’t be real. It’s definitely a dream, definitely. As children’s voices and laughing from below echo up to the balcony, she cannot see them but she knows they’re there, everything passes by like a make believe. Then he reads a poem that describes their love perfectly. When she thinks about it now, she struggles to remember the words. How heartbreaking. Something that was so profound that clearly described their love, is lost on her. Tears fall at this fact and she realizes she has forgotten the memory.

But there’s the picture, sitting above the tv still, holding all the emotion possible for this one moment in time where she thought she’d never look back with sadness. A moment that was destined to bring love, happiness, and….forever. Yet it’s all gone now. A memory of the past; one she can’t quite recall in it’s entirety.

I know not what life has in store for me now and I do know, despite not being able to recall all the details as I’d hoped only 10 years later, that at one point in my life I was loved and loved beyond ever imaginable. I never thought a girl from small town Iowa would fall in love and marry an amazing man from England. I know that no matter what I do now I could never get that back. I’ve loved and lost as they say. If everything happens for a reason, is the reason for this so that I could experience true love at one point in my life? Or perhaps is the lesson here that the demons we fight are destructive if we don’t attend to them the right way? Demons have haunted me since and will continue to do so the rest of my life, but I don’t have to go down with out a fair fight anymore, at least I hope I don’t. I believe in one true love, I always will. The impact this has had on me is immeasurable and inexplainable and I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy. So if you have the chance to love, love unconditionally, with all your being. Love without jealousy, without the negatives of your past impacting you along the way. If it is true love, nothing will be able to break it down, unless the you’ve fought with all your being and still can’t quite pinpoint the reason for failure to succeed at something that was once, so easy.

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