I run my fingers across the photo album at the smiling faces of the children I know intellectually to be mine, those chubby cheeks and mischievous grins stare up at me from the pages and I can’t help but feel my heart break a little for never having known them through those formative years, for not being able to hold them in my arms when they cried, watch them blow out their birthday candles or share in their journeys as they grew from babies into young men.
I see those images now and I can’t let go of the fact that they were taken through someone else’s eyes, that those moments of laughter, successes and sadness’s were captured and shared by another who was hidden by my skin. Now I sit here and feel that loss for a moment, so heavy in my chest as I struggle to try and recognise something, anything from those pictures that can connect me to those moments, let me feel those memories but instead only a pang of jealousy passes through me for they were not mine to hold.
Years have gone by so very fast and once again time seems to have left me in its wake, stolen so many precious moments that I can never re-claim as my own, now this grief grips so strongly yet it is so incomprehensible and silent to those around us.
I wanted so badly to be their mother, yet I was too young, too naïve, too afraid and now I can never get that opportunity back again, they have grown up without me, perhaps in a way alongside me.
This sadness runs so deep because it is such a lonely one, cloaked by the convincing mask of a picturesque life, how do you begin to explain a loss that nobody knows you had, that nobody else can ever see?
They say not to wallow in your regrets, that you cannot change the past, only learn from it, that we only do the best we can at the time with the tools we have available to us and I know there’s truth in those statements, but I do so wish, that perhaps I could have lived my own life, not hidden away from it as I did, given myself a chance to be okay.
One day soon I may wake up with silver hair, the lines in my skin a well-worn roadmap of a life I never lived, and as I trace those wrinkles on my hands, maybe I will follow them all the way up to my heart and finally find those missing pieces, find those hidden memories and have a chance to hold those smiling faces and chubby cheeks once again in my mind, but this time feel them as my own.