It was starting to snow again as Janice sat on her oldest daughter’s bed and flipped through a photo album. The pages were covered with happier memories and times, which Janice recalled well. She let her fingertips trail over a photo of her three daughters at a theme park in the queue for the log flume. Three young smiling faces twinkled back at her. She turned the page and felt the sting of hot tears.
Sniffing and swallowing, she concentrated and tried to figure out whom out of her other two daughters this birthday party displayed in the pictures was for. She decided it must have been Jessy, her second child, because she was blowing out the pink candles. The next two pages had photos from their Disneyland holiday and mixed, scrapbook like, with different tickets, postcards and stickers.
Janice couldn’t take it anymore. She slammed the album shut and pressed her hands to her face. Breathing deeply, which sounded like she had a bad cold, she wondered if she would ever feel happy again. Letting the tears fall because she had no choice, she felt an unexpected squeeze of her shoulder. Dropping her hands and looking up quickly, she saw Jessy before her and her other daughter, Lucy lingering in the doorway.
‘I’m fine,’ she answered they unspoken questions and waved her hand.
‘It’s still okay not to be fine though, mum,’ Jessy replied sitting down next to her and sliding her hand down her mum’s back to rub it gently.
‘I know, but I have to stay strong,’ Janice explained and hugged Jessy.
She beckoned Lucy to join them and somewhat reluctantly the teenager did so. Janice put an arm around both her girls and held them close.
‘Kat wouldn’t want you to be so upset,’ Jessy remarked, ‘and anyone else either.’
‘How would you know?’ Lucy muttered under her breath, ‘she was being so selfish!’
‘Now, Lu, don’t be like that,’ Janice gushed, ‘We all could have done more of her. It wasn’t…it wasn’t…’
‘It’s alright mum,’ Jessy cut back in, ‘no one could have known what she was going through. She was just too upset and stressed.’
‘I know, but I only wanted the best for you all. And what kind of mother does that now make me?’ Janice questioned and forced back another wave of tears.
She studied her daughters’ faces, finding all the similarities and differences between them in those few moments. Her girls were beautifully, intelligent and kind. Each had something of herself and her husband within them. Kat had been the same. She had been the leader of her sisters with her motherly side and love of the home. How quickly her happy, positive nature had fallen when the hard times had come knocking.
Janice sighed and held her remaining girls closely.
‘No one will think any different of you, mum,’ Jessy whispered.