I clutch the locket my mother gave me. It only made its home around my neck a few days ago but its presence feels so familiar. I trace my thumb over its smooth backing repeatedly as if I'm feverishly seeking penance for grievances unknown. I can't help but wonder if their pictures encased in this delicate silver lotus is as close as I will ever come.

One who is but may never be and one who was but never came to be.

Honestly, I never knew. Never knew I wanted to be a mother. God it hurts, actually. To scratch that word down on paper because what am I really? Is there even a noun to describe a person such as me?

The almost mother.

A woman clutching desperately at the silver chain around her neck, trying fruitlessly to grasp the future.

For a moment I think I ought to tuck the locket back below my shirt, a naive attempt to disregard the pain of uncertainty.  I can feel its ever-present warmth, the delicate weight of them near to my heart. I glance at the man sitting next to me and fleetingly wonder what he might be hiding just out of my sight. I turn my face back to the tiny airplane window. Tears seem to always lay just behind my eyelids these days, threatening to expose my perpetual state of weakness. I feel them start to slide down my cheeks, their presence greeting me like the comforting embrace of an old friend. I used to be a stronghold and I thought that meant I was brave. Now I know that bravery is bearing your vulnerability and finding a way forward even when loss is imminent.

I remember when my love held me and explained that they are our compass, our true North. We can't falter now that they've shown the way. I take in the sight of their two tiny pictures once more and give thanks before finally snapping it closed.