Hope.

Just yesterday I was eating my morning breakfast in my haze of just waking up before the coffee, sitting at the table drinking my normal 20 ounces of water with my boiled eggs, I noticed my glass was broken.

My glass that I was drinking out of had three cracks along the rim formed into a triangle. Obviously, not enough to cause a leak or even notice unless you were looking. Because the break was facing me, I noticed.

And thought.

That's me right now. Infertility makes you feel broken. But daily, you try your best to keep those little broken pieces together because if you let go of one tiny little sliver of brokenness even for a second you will shatter.

Also, there's hope. Even though my drinking glass was [and still is broken], it was working just fine. It was holding my water perfectly, it still looked pretty enough to even serve a friend BUT it was still broken.

And just like the glass filled with water is broken, being filled with hope while broken is such a growing experience. One that I wish I wasn't a participant in, but I am.

So today, I'm broken but filled with hope. And I'm going to keep filling my cup with hope and remember that just because there's a break in the glass doesn't mean I still can't be used.

And tomorrow when I drink my 20 ounces I think I'll make sure it's from that glass. Hope.

Infertility Feels...

Infertility feels like the dread of a bad break up. The one where you've been in the relationship a long time but suddenly you know it's over and you have to end it. The months and weeks before hand, before the actual split, the dread that comes with the long seconds, minutes, hours and days. The "try and not think about it" that comes from your best friends and the "one day you're gonna smile again, etc" that everyone says to you that knows it's coming.

Except.

Shut up.

You still wake up the next day with that dread and I-just-have-to-make-it-through-this-day mentality even if you only think about it for an hour collective the entire day, it's still there.

That "thing." That "thing," that "feeling" just sits and chews at your heart and gnaws at your throat. And never goes away.

Infertility.

And "in the waiting" and not knowing if you'll ever be a mom. Am I with the right Reproductive Endocrinologist? Is He the one that is going to get me pregnant? Are the cards in my favor finally? But living with this day after day and getting older day after day and years of medicine that makes you feel bad, and the wonder of is it even worth it...

And once you actually get the courage to break up and do it - months and years down the road, it'll just be part of your story and you'll most likely be glad it ended because everything is now finally how it should be.

And the years and trials of infertility. Once they lay that bloody crying little seven pound of perfect heaven on your naked chest in your trance of "did I just do this?" and when you look over at your husband with tears in his eyes and he nods that you did. All that pain, all that hurt, all those days, months and years of dread becomes just part of your story because in the end you wouldn't have it any other way, and life is finally how it should be.


jessica dukes
[photography]
-jessicadukes.com-

on being kind.

I wish this story was about me. Unfortunately, It is not.

Long before Brad, Peggy and instagramming in-between there were Monday nights. Monday nights were a night where myself and my two best friends/roommates would open our home to anyone and everyone that wanted to come over, literally. Often times the street was so full of cars, the yard would become the parking lot.  We always had chocolate cookies and Chili's chips and salsa. I cooked a home-cooked meal for everyone (I had in my head that all these male musician friends we had were hungry...) It started as something small and when it ended we would sometimes have upwards of 50 people some Monday nights. Some nights, we were gathered around watching The Bachelor with groups paired off in the kitchen and then some nights we just talked, hung out, fellowshipped.

Everyone that came was different, but similar. All about the same age, demographic, etc. Just a group of college something, young professionals getting together to start off the week with friends.

There was one guy that was different though. He was older than we were, often he didn't smell very good and he never said much. He was very different. But somehow in this group, he found something that kept him coming back Monday after Monday. I'm in the school of thought "be kind, we are all going through something hard..." but when I would see him walking up to the door I would shrug my shoulders and honestly wish he hadn't come. Maybe he was a little "creepy?" I am confident I was just judging him.

Week after week, he came back. I never really noticed anyone really conversing with him ever. He was just there. Sure, we were all nice to him, but on my end it was more of a tolerated him than anything.

One of the guys that came on Monday nights was cooler than most of us, though (at least in my opinion). He was a song writer and musician, and just a cool guy. Maybe he was a little different too.

One night this "group" was hanging out at someone elses house, it was pretty much the same group of people that were around on Monday nights and he was there. Laid back on the couch, arm over the back of the sofa.  He smelt bad and seemed sad like usual. I chose to just ignore him.  

Then I watched as this cool guy mentioned above walked over and sat right beside him and patted him on the leg like he was an old friend and started up a conversation. The wealth of information that I heard about Star Wars and movies, you would have never believed. He engaged with him, talked to him and was interested in him. Interested in what he said. Truly. He listened and hung on to every word he said.

I remember that it was even time for him to leave and his cool posse called his name and said, "Hey, its time to go!" and he replied without missing a beat "Hold on, I'm talking to _____." And continued on with their conversation until it was genuinely over.

I watched in awe. A true true kindness was displayed right before my eyes. Finally, when ______ got up to leave, and said, "It was great talking to you ______."  He shrugged and kind of smiled and as _____ walked away and _____ threw his arm back on the back of the couch again, he relaxed back into his seat from their riveting conversation - he looked full and happy.

And in that moment, I thought to myself and later told him, "You know, I think you may have saved _____ life tonight just by being kind to him and truly being interested in what he had to say."

I think about this often, but especially something tragic happens like suicide and wonder how it could have been prevented.

Let us be kind to one another and love each other a little better and truly listen and be interested in what people have to say.  Give them time. You could save someones life.

A case of the Mondays.

Yesterday was the definition of why Mondays are deemed Mondays.

It is a new day.  And I just sent some pictures (including these three photographs) to their sweet Mama, and Tuesday is already looking better.  I mean, how can you have a bad day looking at these sweet faces?
 
Let's make a deal Tuesday.  I'll be good to you and you be good to me.
Deal?
Deal.

Fixer.

My dad was a humble man.

A man of little words.

When he spoke, you wanted to listen. IF he was ever funny, he was really funny.

He was a mechanic most all of his life. No scholar by the books standards, but he could build anything and repair whatever was broken.

Except his body.

But because his body was broken, he made the choice to give his body to science to, even in his death, fix other bodies riddled with Parkinson's Disease.

Today, mom got his ashes. Which made me so sad and so proud of him. He was a good man, a kind man, a fixer.

I'd like to think his last act of himself was his finest.

I'm proud to be his daughter.

XO


jessica dukes
[photography]
-jessicadukes.com-

I'm so happy to be stuck with you. || three.

Yes, it's true.  I'm so happy to be stuck with you.

I heard that song on the radio the other day and thought about you.

Happy to be stuck with you.
Happy to get to do this life with you.

Every day I'm thankful for you.  I tell you that a lot, but I hope you know it's true and feel my love for you grow stronger every day.  We are a good team.

SO here's to 1,095 days of marital bliss TOGETHER add a Peggy in the mix and it's one good life.

Yes, it's true.  I'm so happy to be stuck with you.


Awkward Family Photos

It's only April and I have learned a ton this year.

One thing I have learned is there is no such thing as a bad picture.

I took some pictures at Thanksgiving of our entire family, at moms prodding.  They were terrible deemed by me, and probably to anyone else.  But since dad's death, I decided to revisit those things and actually found some gems.  All of them.

And even though we are misplaced, I look like I am married to my nephew Seth in most of the pictures, my nephew Bens eye only is showing, we look kinda like the Herdman family, I am sweating because I have a heavy sweater on AND because I was back and forth between the 10 second and go timer while the camera sat on a rickety table with 15 books under it...until my sister-in-law's sister took over...you get it.  Bad photos.

But then when you know you can never get this picture back again, it becomes golden.

join me for comedy hour.

ready?

Nice socks mom while striking your model pose.  Lookin' good gurl.
Dad - I'm here, but I don't wanna be.
He always was the favorite child.  That's by brother, Trampas. And look, we are centered.  It's a GO.  Everyone, timers on!  Hurry!!!
You can't make this stuff up, y'all.  
Brad's taken over the model pose. Seth (red sweater) is like "dude, how you do that? like, this?" Ethan (random arm) who is hiding behind my brother (purple) clearly is about to put earrings on his mom.  Atticus (baby) says, "How did I end up in this family?"
Mom and Dad are like "ALL OF YOU! Out of our picture!"
and then, obviously, I need to work on my sprint.  
 Mom and Dad have settled into their family.  "Oh look, Roy, we might as well smile, they ain't going anywhere."  Everyone and GO.  Jessica?  Jessica?  Jess....
 Something is really funny.  Let's be honest, they're just laughing from cheering for me because I made it in the picture.  Go me.  
 Atticus is getting an ear infection from all the chatter.  And look, everyone is smiling and accounted for.  The picture is crooked but faces, faces are accounted for.  BOOM.
And then when you make it black and white and remember, we are all there, together.  
It's okay that I look like I am married to Seth.  
It's okay that Bens eye is only showing.
We are happy and we are together.  And this would be the last picture we ever took together.  
So, it's the best picture.  


And because he's cute, here's a closer look at my great nephew Atticus.  
Take pictures people.
On your phone.
bad pictures, good pictures, lots of pictures,
just take them.
you won't regret it.

And that is no April Fools. 
Happy Day, friends.


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