Making a Life

This weekend, while rummaging through a closet for Christmas decorations (we start early at my house), my mother found a picture of my father. Years ago, I'd lost the photo and feared it was gone forever. I'd thought about this particular photo many times, wondering where it was, if it'd ever come to light again.

At first, she didn't want to show me the picture, fearing it would upset me. When she handed it to me, I smiled and, for a moment, my eyes filled with tears. I felt both joy and grief; joy at having the lost photo again and seeing his face, grief at knowing the father I lost is gone forever, that all I have left of his life are a few trinkets and photographs.

***

Tomorrow, I start a job. I've been searching for one for months now, putting in nearly one hundred applications and feeling like the rejection would never end. I still can't believe it's real.

I'm thinking about how far my life has come. In the years after my father's death in 2006, I was a girl in her late teens who could barely leave the house. Every moment was filled with fear and anxiety. Somehow, I went to college, graduated in May, and now I finally have a job that pays a decent wage. I don't think I've really felt like an adult until this moment. In fact, at one time, this moment itself was inconceivable.

Those days when I couldn't leave the house, when I had panic attacks and deep depressive episodes, made me believe that my life would only ever be an endless black hole. Some days it still is. Just a week ago, I shared my struggle with depression and the difficult time I've been having. And yet finding this job has given me a little bit of hope that maybe the near-decade of poverty and struggle is coming to an end, or at least I'll get a lull, a few months of stability.

***

Christmas is coming. It's my favorite holiday. A local radio station is already playing classic Christmas music. In the car,  my mother and I gleefully sing along to the songs. She's decorated the bathroom already and has a little pink tree in her bedroom. After Thanksgiving, people in my small town will start covering their homes in lights and my mother and I will drive around, gazing at them. We'll drink hot chocolate and watch made-for-tv Christmas movies. We'll do what we've always done: survive, make a life out of the broken pieces, cobble together what happiness we can find. It will be enough. It will be more than enough.