Image credit to Violet Lace Photography

I long to feel whole again. I long to feel unencumbered by grief and pain. I long to feel bright and shiny and full of joy. The kind of joy that doesn’t require permission or have to be qualified. The kind of joy that is unaccompanied by guilt or confusion. The kind of joy that reaches every inch of your soul and is written all over your face. The pure, simple, familiar kind of joy that existed in my heart before my innocence was stolen.

The brokenness is daunting. Though grief changes over time, it never completely leaves us. The knowledge that I will live with this ache in my heart for the rest of my days is, at its best, overwhelming, and at its worst, wholly suffocating. The truth is, part of my heart will forever be floating with a sweet girl whom I hold only in my dreams. But I am learning, albeit slowly, that joy has a way of sneaking back into your life when you open yourself up to its return. I’ve felt it, amidst my toddler’s peals of laughter and the sparkle in her eyes. I’ve felt it, surrounded by a picturesque view that can only be a gift from my darling girl. I’ve felt it, in forging profound connections with other beautiful, broken souls. It doesn’t make an appearance every day, and it certainly has changed since my world was turned upside down. But when joy knocks on my door, I greet it like an old friend, and I can see the world in color again. I can feel the remaining pieces of my heart soaring with gratitude for the love that pours from it. There joy exists, right beside the space I hold for my sweet baby girl.