My birthday gift, three weeks early: the fabulous, fancy, SLR camera I have been coveting for a year. I hold its heavy, boxy black body in my hand, caress the lens, fiddle with one of the countless switches and doodads that adorn its solid sides.
Seven is sleeping on my bed, her pink mouth drawn into a perfect bow, her little brow knit into a serious arch above her flitting baby eyes.
I tell Mr. Blandings thank you with my eyes and my words. I hug him as tightly as I can and kiss him with one of those just-for-married-folks kisses. It is a good feeling, this being loved beyond measure.
"I know it cost a fortune!" I say to him, pulling back and admiring, yet again, the camera of my dreams--the one I will take countless photos of my growing children with. The one I will lug on camping trips, to the zoo, on playdates, to swim lessons. The one that will capture and preserve the salad days of my life.
"You've waited a long time," he says, stroking my cheek.
"A year isn't that long," I smile, thinking of all of the "things" we have decided to wait on or let go. A year, really, is nothing. A camera ... even less.
"Not for the camera," he says then, and glances over his shoulder to where our baby is curled on her side, sleeping blissfully in her pink onesie, wrapped in her striped pink blanket.
A long time. Yes. Four years. Forty-eight months, many miscarriages, weeks upon weeks of ache. Many days, as I journeyed through infertility and loss, I felt alone. I felt abandoned, broken, and forgotten. No one, I was sure, could understand. No one saw the hurt.
I was wrong.