We Don’t Get to Know What Happens Next

There is both beauty and fear in not knowing what tomorrow brings. We never really know what’s coming, what’s going to happen, what’s going to change. There are some things in our day to day that we count on – we don’t even think about because, come hell or high water, they will happen. The moon rising, the seasons changing, growing older, dinner coming after lunch, bacon being amazing. These things will always be true. But other things in life we can’t count on. We think we can, and then when something happens that drastically alters our vision of what’s supposed to happen, it can knock the wind out of us.

This sudden change can bring tremendous sadness, deep anxiety or passionate happiness. You never know. Your husband may not wake up again tomorrow morning. You might find out you are unexpectedly pregnant. Maybe you’ll get fired or your sister will be in a car accident. Your house can burn to the ground. A friend could die. You could meet someone that will change your life. You could land your dream job. You could get into the college of your choice – or not. Your train could go off the tracks. Your child could attempt suicide. The love of your life could tell you goodbye.

Unexpected events that you never saw coming. We don’t get that info. There is no system set up so that we can be prepared for what is next – not emotionally. We just have to continue on in this life and move forward. Sometimes that’s easy and life feels so good that moving forward is all we want and we can dance our way into the future. Sometimes it feels awful and moving forward is the last thing on earth you’d like to do. But we have no choice because those things that we can count on never stopping – don’t. The sun rises even when you don’t want it to. Time pushes us forward.

Time is healing. It’s often a trite saying but it’s true. But it’s not that simple. It’s not time itself that heals; its your body and mind sitting with all the emotions that you’re holding and processing them. Constantly. You breathe, you think, you feel. Feel all of it – over and over. Your body has a tremendous propensity for healing. Trusting in that is difficult but it truly is something we can count on. Our body and our minds have our best interest at heart. It can take time but healing happens.

I think back to the past several New Year’s Eve’s in my life and I realize how much I didn’t know as I was looking into the next 12 months. For better and for worse. There has been a lot of hard stuff and horrific pain that I’m glad I didn’t know was coming and there has been a huge amount of good as well. So much – good and happiness and magic that I never expected. As I sit here, happy that 2017 is on it’s way out and peeking into 2018, I feel good in knowing that there will be both good and bad, joy and pain, happy and sad, this year. There are 365 days of opportunity. Hell, every single day is a new opportunity for happiness. Landing an amazing job, meeting someone that makes you smile all day long, recovering from illness. We can hope and pray that the good outweighs the bad but we just never know.

I wish for all of us a happy and healthy 2018. But I wish even more for the awareness of the beauty of each day and the opportunity to begin again every single day. Not just on January 1. Each day, the moon will sink and the sun will come up and light up the world – and so can every one of us. Always leave room for the magic that can happen. I’m hoping for more of that this year – and always.

The most wonderful – and surprising – Christmas present ever

Telling my two daughters that their dad died was the worst moment of my life. Worse than finding him dead – although that happened just minutes before. Telling them felt like I was doing something so huge, so monumental. I knew that the words coming out of my mouth were words that would change the trajectory of their lives forever. The weight of that, the enormity of what I was about to do, was brutal. As I sat in my eldest daughter’s bed, the grey light of the rainy morning starting to enter the room, I could feel the words form within me. It felt like they were holding on to my insides, not wanting to leave my body and come out into the light. It took great effort to pull them out and form the words with my mouth, force the air through and say them out loud. I did it. I said it. It felt as if I had done something violent, even though I said the words in the softest, kindest way I knew how. The words were something that divided that day from all others in the past. There was now a before and after. We all have before and after’s – before and after you met someone, before and after you were married, before and after you had children. But to be there bearer of your children’s before and after the day their dad died is quite the insanity.

Those first few months are really a blur for me. Hell, the first few years are a blur. A blur of sadness, grief, mixed with happiness and gratitude. Gratitude for the unbelievable amount of support our family received. It was amazing how our community came together to support us in ways we never dreamed.

I also discovered that I was pregnant those first few months – that contributed to all those emotions. The sadness and the happiness, the grief and the gratitude. I was so feeling every possible emotion regarding being pregnant with my 3rd child but I knew two people that would only feel one way about it. My daughters. They would feel nothing but happiness. They had been asking Steve and I for a baby for the past several months at least. I knew they would be over the moon and I knew that this baby would help to ease their sadness.

I didn’t want to tell anyone that I was pregnant for quite some time and I was worried that something was going to happen with this pregnancy. I could not bear the thought of telling my girls or our family and then having to tell them I’d suffered a miscarriage. So I waited as long as I could – until Christmas. Not the recommended or traditional 3 months, but by Christmastime I had known that I was expecting for over a month and it was starting to feel wrong to not share this news with everyone.

I had a plan for how to tell the rest of the family but I didn’t know how to tell the girls. I decided to tell them Christmas morning. We spent that Christmas at my brother’s house and I told my brother and sister in-law on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning the kiddos were up early but before my girls went to see what was under the tree, I went into the room they had been sleeping in together and climbed into bed with them. I had a box with me and told them I had a really good present for them. They looked at the small box and gave each other a quizzical look. They carefully opened it. Inside, I had placed a pacifier, a bib, a baby spoon, a jar of baby food, a tiny diaper. And a picture of the ultrasound. They took each item out and giggled and looked at each other, looked at me. “What is this? Why are you giving us this baby stuff?” They didn’t get it. Why would they? Who they heck would ever dream that I was pregnant?

I said to them, “I have a big surprise for you. We are going to have a baby.” They again exchanged quizzical looks with each other and then looked back to me. “Huh?….. What?….. Really??!!!” Once I confirmed it for them several times – the shrieks of happiness and laughter and the biggest smiles I had ever seen. Pure love and pure glee. They hugged me over and over, they hugged each other. We all sat there in bed together talking about it for a few minutes and then they asked me if they could go tell their cousins. I said, “Of course!” Out they ran to share the crazy news with their 5 cousins and the laughter and happiness grew and grew and filled the entire house. It felt like the house might lift off the ground from the sheer joy that morning.

It was a moment, a morning, a Christmas moment, that I’ll never forget. And telling my girls something so good felt like a kind of redemption from telling them something so bad just 7 weeks earlier. The news of this baby that was coming to be a part of our family did not and could not take away the grief that was a part of all of us. But that news and this amazing new development gave all of us something really good to focus on, something happy and positive. It gave us Hope and a light in the darkness. And I don’t think it was until I told my little girls about it Christmas morning that I could really see that.