I found a photo of my nineteen-year-old self, in a box of my cherished photographs.
I’m the one cleaning her glasses with her sweater.
I expected to find baby pictures of my oldest kids, from back before I had a digital camera. I expected to see images of people I used to know, younger versions of my family members, snapshots of places I once lived.
I did not expect to see the dark-haired, lonely girl whose smile seemed weighted in sorrow, or whose eyes look older than my eyes do now.
What happened to her? Did she find peace? Is she still wandering alone, reaching for a deeper love to sustain a long life?
I saw her, and I recognized her, and I realized that she is still me.
I am still lonely, alone, wrapped in silence and sorrow. There is no pain so bone-deep as the wounds received in childhood; unless it is the wounding of one’s own children before your very eyes.
I am also alive and bright with joy, my face and body changed after the children I have borne. The relationships I have formed, some official before God and government, some my heart’s fierce choice alone, have both wounded and healed me in new and lasting ways.
I smile more now than I used to. I’ve laughed and cried in the same breath more times than I can count.
I’ve wandered this bit of earth looking for love, and have found it more often than I have discovered its absence.
When I was nineteen, I wanted to find not just love, but meaning.
In the seventeen years since, I can’t say I have found any better reason to keep looking, keep wandering, keep wondering, and keep searching.
After all, aren’t each of us here to find meaning, to marry an inclination to love with a reason to remain alive?
I’m still her, but I’ve managed to learn a few important things.
Loneliness is beautiful.
Pain is an amazingly thorough teacher.
There is always room for love in the space between spaces.
And the journey itself is often the best part of being alive.
This post originally published at rhiannonllewellyn.com