"SMILE AIDAN!" The words cut through me like a knife and I froze in time. It's as if I stepped out of my body...but I could still feel my eyes start to tear. I could sense Mikey's stare at my face, but I didn't look at him. "Your email?".......M'am?".......I snapped out of it. She had apparently asked me for my email multiple times. I gave her my email, while still in a blur. "Look over here Aidan!..Aidan!" There it was again. I wasn't dreaming. It was time to walk to the photo area. I was so out of it, the girls working there must have thought I was crazy. Behind the curtain, on the other side of the room was the family of boys. A giggling three year old skipped about the room. "Aidan! Come here!...AIDAN!"
"We'll start with the family portrait first..OK?" I stared blankly and nodded yes. Yes..I thought to myself...The Family Portrait....but...not everyone was here. We went to sit down in front of the tacky backdrop. "Ugh! I despise the white background!" "What else do you have?" Yes, I said that out loud. I was so nasty...it was a coping mechanism I suppose. The girl (not a photographer by the way) started clicking away. There wasn't much direction, and I was already irritated. Mikey asked me if I was alright. "No. No..I'm not alright." "Let's just get this over with." I heard his name about 87 times..but who was counting? Of course I could think of this as a sign, as Aidan letting me know he was with us. It didn't hurt any less though. Nothing will ever take the pain away. Nothing will ever fill that gap in our family. It's amazing how some things can really set you off..and others you take at ease. I smiled through the rest of the session...fighting the tears back with each flash of the camera.
And here it is. Our Family Portrait. All Five of us..minus one.