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.