This morning as a slideshow of our family photos and past memories played as my computer screen saver, Ava said, “I want to see daddy's friends today.” I watch as she lights up and is drawn to younger men, men similar to Mitch in one way or another, some that share similar physical attributes and some that share his young, free-spirited nature. I see clearly that we are both grieving his absence in varying ways. I too find that when I see people in love, I long for him, or when I see a man that looks similar to him, I long for Mitch. I too am drawn to that masculine energy, that Ava at two years old is drawn to. And this is when there is a choice to fear not falling in love again, not finding a loving dad for my daughters, or to have faith and to trust that the perfect man will come and join our family at the right time. We all long to be loved, to have a companion to journey with in this life, but it is during the times we find ourselves without that we must look within to love ourselves more wholly, to allow our sadness, our pains, and our fears to refine us into more loving fulfilled human beings. It is then that we open to receiving more love that can come in its many forms. I cannot ease Ava's pain of loss for her dad, but for now I can make sure our home is filled to the brim with love and expose her to positive and trusting male energy as a positive reminder of her dad in some way. I can also help her connect to his spirit through daily prayers and conversations with him, and pray for his guidance in how I parent her. And perhaps as I become more whole and healed, and find more peace and fulfillment, that this too will ease some of the longing that Ava feels. And this is one of the challenges for anyone raising a child without a partner, finding ways to fulfill our children's need for love in ways that are nurturing to the soul. And in this process we too will learn to love ourselves in ways that nurture our souls.