The other night as I was wrapping gifts in my office, I glanced up at my computer screen. My screen saver is a slide show of all the photos saved on my computer. Each new photo brought a smile to my face as the last few years of parties, milestones, and random poses of family and friends lit up my desktop.
While the images of newborns and graduations flashed by one at a time, I realized that watching my screen saver slide show was sort of like watching my life flash before my eyes. In one photo my kids are half their current size, and still in elementary school...and in the next we are all attending my daughter's high school graduation. There are photos of the babies that have been born into our amazing brood (the three most recent are in the photo above), mixed with photos of hilarious family vacations, trips with friends, kids ready for the prom, and various people blowing out candles on birthday cakes. Some photos make me laugh out loud, and others cause a sigh at how quickly the time has gone by.
When a photo of Phil comes up I find myself so grateful for the memory the snapshot delivers. In these pre-death photos I look innocent and happy. Then there is the photographic evidence of grief that tugs at my heart. We had a family reunion the year after Phil died, and I am certain that you can see the sadness in my eyes in every picture of that day. My widow community makes an appearance in my life slide show, and I feel a sense of kinship when I see these photos that fills my heart with pride and a very deep gratitude. When a photo of Michael and I in Australia pops up in the mix I find myself wondering, "Whose life am I living?" Who is that woman in the photo looking content and confident? I have to remind myself that the grateful, joyful person in that photo is me too.
My slide show has provided evidence of all I that have survived in the past four years. There is proof that I have attended parties I thought would be terrible, but I managed to smile. Each frame shows a little bit of growth, and a lot of gratitude. Every memory is laced with love and joy, even when I couldn't see the forest for the trees. This collection of pictures showed me all that has been added to my life since Phil left this earth. The photos with Phil in them remind me of the happiness he brought to my life, while the photos without him prove that life really does go on. Judging from the pictures on my screen, Phil has left me in very good hands.