Hi, Mom.

In my office sits a framed photograph of you and Dad bedecked in purple and yellow on the sidelines of a Williams football game. It’s the fall of 2006, and you’re seated in the grass, shoulder to shoulder, hugging my Ursa close, and smiling up at the camera proudly.

When I returned to work just a few weeks ago, nearly 8 months to the day since you died, that image smacked me in the face upon entering my office. It sat casually on my desk, in the very place it was left when I closed up my office on Friday, February 12th, fully expecting to return the following Monday, the home stretch to baby’s arrival. And yet, just two days later, our lives changed forever. And I had forgotten about that photograph in the fog of life in The After.

But there it was, with you and Ursa side by side. And I felt myself grow angry and crushed at its sight. Two out of the three beings in that image are dead. Gone. I will never see them again. Never hold them again. Never feel their love firsthand. Ever again. I was gutted by that reality.

It wasn’t so long ago that we sat together on that patch of grass on that brisk November day. And as I stared at that image today at work, I found myself trying to recall what it felt like to hold your hand. I tried to recall the safety and love I experienced when pressing my face against the side of your cheek in a hug. Or the way stroking Ursa’s silky, black ears always brought such relaxation and calm.

And I fucking hate that I don’t ever get to experience those things again. Ever again. It is so horribly, painfully unfair.

143 Your Ashley