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Hindsight is a b****.

Jaimie Malphrus 4/24/23

Photo description: Anne, Valerie, me, Rachel, and Anneclaire (not pictured- Lee, Michael, Patrick)

My heart is full. God, that’s so cheesy, but it is.

I just had dinner with David’s family… my family. My sister and brother-in-law, his mom and dad, my nephew. I’m full of tacos and ice cream and prosecco and support.

My nephew made me watch as he continuously launched himself into a pile of pillows to avoid bed time. Fearless. Face first. Doing spin moves. Cannon balls. I fully encouraged this. I’m not a parent helper when it comes to kids; I like to play.

I tried not to weep as he made everyone at the table move so we could sit next to each other.

I watched videos of him ziplining and shrieking, “THIS IS AWESOME!” at the top of his lungs.

I asked if he was scared at first. As I watched him throw his tiny body off his parent’s headboard I realized that was a ridiculous question.

There’s honestly no reason he should be excited to see me. I’ve been in a depression isolation pit for months. On and off since his uncle died. I’m rarely around for more than a few days at a time despite living 10 minutes away. Sometimes it feels like a cross country trip.

I had a moment with my therapist last week that really kicked me in the ass. She’s amazing and I adore her (even if she gives me homework). She asked me why I think I struggle with asking for help… reaching out to people that love me when I’m in need.

There’s not a simple answer to that. Trauma? My childhood? My own family? Hyper-independence?

The answer that came out of my mouth is shame. I’m ashamed when I’m not okay. Even despite the fact that I would COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND if someone else in my situation revealed they had not been doing okay. Let's be real, life has been tricky at BEST for the last 5 years.

Her follow-up questions were brutal, yet insightful.

Why do you think you’re harder on yourself than others? I don’t know, is childhood the right answer?

Do you feel like a burden? Sometimes, but no one ever makes me feel that way.

Do you think that their love is conditional? ...No.

That one. That’s the question that got me. I know they love me. I can see it, feel it, hear it. It’s truly a testament to how loving and open they are that the sight of me doesn’t emotionally break them. I’d understand if they didn’t want to see me, but they do.

Having dinner with them tonight, seeing David’s mother and father so happy to see me? Immediately falling into easy discussion about our lives. I know their love for me is not conditional. I’m family. They’re my family. I don’t know how I would do any of this, anything, without them.

I got home and chatted with a framed picture of David as I got ready for bed. And by “chatted,” I mean I wondered aloud about the purpose of life, the meaning, the lesson. What I lost and what I gained.

David gave me a home. A way my own hometown never felt even on its best days. He gave me three sisters to add to mine. Three vastly different people that are beautiful humans and brilliant in so many different ways. I like to say I have a sister for every occasion now.

He gave me parents that live close by and would drop anything to be with me at a moment’s notice regardless of the circumstance.

He gave me a nephew. A brilliantly smart 4 year old that David barely got to know but still seems like a tiny him. A little boy with his dimples and insane charisma that owns every room he walks into.

He gave me the discipline to write this whole list. Blogs. A solo show. Something I never could have imagined for myself before. A way to speak to myself and my thoughts that satisfies my creative impulses. A way to understand myself.

He gave me growth. Roots. Love. Community. Direction.

I’ve learned that David wasn’t my “end all, be all” final chapter. But I was part of his. And I’m so insanely lucky.


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