Catching My Breath

It’s been long since I’ve written.  My hiatus has been less about not having a desire to write, but more about trying to catch my breath from the past few years.  This is the period in time I’ve waited to get to for almost 600 days and I’ve learned something surprising- the landscape is very different here than I imagined it would be.  As I reflect on my world, my environment as it is today some remains the same, but much is changed.  For months, years now, I’ve waited for that light at the end of the tunnel everyone promised me would come.  It’s a very new and different picture I see lluminated by that light.

In my life I’ve learned that during times of great stress and pressure some people are able to take the trip with you while others chose to get off at the nearest stop and continue on their journey without you.  It has been a harsh realization.  Harsh because it has forced me to look at parts of myself I’m not so proud of.  People look for excuses- I know this because I’ve been one of those people.  Truth is we all do it to some extent, at some point.  Embarrassingly one of my most painful and personal example of this took place when one of my dearest friends was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She was diagnosed when we were very young.  Dawn and I had been friends since we were about 6 years old.  There were other friends in and out of that circle, even quiet lapses of time, but she and I were always close.  When I learned of her diagnosis it seemed unthinkable to me.  Young adults don’t get breast cancer.  Surely that disease is reserved only for those in old age.  Not so.  She had it and it was a heartbreaking reality.  Apparently too heartbreaking for me to deal with… sadly.   She lived in Texas and I was in Tennessee.  We talked several times about making plans to see one another, but they never seemed to pan out.  Then, in what would be the final years of her life, I began to distance myself from her when Dawn started acting in ways I didn’t understand and I didn’t agree with.  Today I see what a haughty, self-righteous person I was being.  At the time I completely saw myself in the right- needing to instruct her in what I thought was correct.  It’s unfortunate that it took her death along with some of my own life experience to show me how I wasted- WASTED- this precious and valuable time I could have had with her.  What she needed was her friend and not a critic of her actions.  My friend was in a position that was completely impossible for me to relate to.  She was going to lose her life, lose her sons, and lose her husband.  She had already lost one breast.  Who in this WORLD did I think I was???  She needed me.  I wasn’t there for her.  I had convinced myself that the separation with her was inevitable and that I couldn’t be a part of her new life if it didn’t line up with mine.  What a waste of the short time that we’re given here on this planet.  It haunts me to this day.

None of us are placed here to live life for another person.  We are placed here to forge our own paths and to do what we can with the gifts and the talents God has given us.  I am the only person who will have to answer for my decisions just as you are the only person who will have to answer for yours.  It is ridiculous to waste time sitting in judgment of one another while we are here when we could be offering support and hopefully continuously learning while moving forward.  While we are alive we will have great successes and great failures.  We will experience times of unbridled jubilation and times of utter defeat.  I think that being able to admit our humanness and imperfection is what makes us relatable to one another and strengthens the relationships we have.  It has been healing to say out loud that I feel weak and tired.  It’s been equally as healing to have strong shoulders to lean upon when I felt my strength was gone.

So I’m catching my breath lately.  I’m letting myself catch up with all that’s been happening.  I’m building up my strength again and getting ready for the new path that lays ahead.  I’m counting my blessings for all that I have.  I’ve been forced to reflect upon certain situations I’m responsible for (and some that I’m not) and I must say it has been one of the most trying periods I’ve ever gone through.  I’ve felt sweet support from friends old and new and have been literally thrown face first under the wheels of a bus by others.  There may be times in life I disappoint people or perhaps they don’t agree with my actions, but I have never set out to bring harm or pain to another person.  I have never woken up and thought, “How can I hurt so-and-so today?”  Sadly, I know there are people in this world who can’t make the same claim.  Fortunately for me I don’t have to worry about any of that.  Again, it is something they will have to answer for- not me. 

One focus that I’ve kept through all the trials is how very blessed I am.  I have so much to be thankful for.  I’m so thankful for the gift of my children.  These two little ones are the very reason that I’m here.  This part of our life as a family hasn’t turned out exactly as I had expected, but I have to believe that everything happens for a higher-ordered reason.  Ava and Eli bring me happiness and joy every day and I miss them terribly on the days I don’t have them.  Absence from my children (when they are with their father) is, without a doubt, the most difficult part of this new phase of life.  We trust that God has a plan for us and we know He’s always going to take care of us. 

I’m thankful for a strong, caring person who very unexpectedly drifted into my life and offered support when the battle was at a fevered pitch.  Neither of us could have predicted that a coincidental meeting would have resulted in an immediate friendship that quietly and powerfully grew into something deeper.  He’s tolerated more than anyone should ever be expected to for the sake of simply being with me and my gratitude to him is endless.  I have complete faith and trust in him.  It’s so nice to be able to feel that way about someone.  I am proud of him and the man he is.  How blessed I am to have been given the opportunity to meet him, to be with him, to laugh with him, and to love him.  Thank you, Brent. 

I was taught as a child that when you grow up if you have just a few really good friends then you are considered very lucky.  I always thought that was crazy since my list of “friends” seemed endless.  The older I’ve gotten the more I understand this theory.  Amy Jo, Brandy, and Lori have been with me practically every step of the way and their support has been unwavering.  These girls accept me for who I am.  I will always return the favor.  Amy Jo Powell, thank you, thank you, thank you.  You have been here everyday.  In this time of wavering “constants” it’s so comforting to know we’re in this for the long haul.  You completely get my need to retreat within myself at times, but you always come calling when I’ve been quiet for too long.  My handful of tried and true buddies are precious to me and I value them so very much.  Melanie, I’m thankful God put you in my life and I’m so glad you’re still here.  I’m blessed with sweet friends in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado who are sweet enough to check on me. 

I want to assure everyone that I’m still here, I’m just fine, and I know that there are great things in store.  It’s amazing the strength I’ve come to realize through the last several years.  I’ve not been strong each step of the way, but God has perfectly positioned loved ones in those spaces to carry me when I was too weak to do it myself.  I look forward to 2013 and have confidence that this will be a wonderful year for me and my family.  May it be a wonderful year for each of you as well.

Year Two

Dad,

Miss you.  Miss you.  Miss you.  Miss you.  Miss you.  Miss you.  Miss you.  Miss you.  Miss you.  Miss you.  Miss you.  Miss you.  Endlessly…

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