365 days. That’s a lot of time. Time to think, time to reflect, time to laugh, to cry, to fall to your knees, to dust yourself off and start anew. It’s a great many sunrises and sunsets, dinners and lunches, books checked off the “must read” list, novels written and edited. It’s one more school year under my kids’ belts, a couple more inches added to their height. It’s a deeper voice for Sam, at least five new hairstyles for Mary Claire. New jobs for both Chris and me. New friends. New experiences. New adventures.
There were a lot of tears. There was a great deal of laughter. And there was change.
I won’t say it was easy. I’ll admit that I probably chose to make it harder than it needed to be. I missed my friends and family. A lot. I looked at life through the bottom of my wine glass a little more than I probably should have. I spent too many hours focusing on what was instead of what is. This new social media landscape that allows us a minute by minute update of all the things we’re not privy to — pictures included — caused a great deal of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
But you know what happened while life in Indiana went on without us? Life in Starkville went on with us.
We were standing around, drinks in hand, celebrating the 4th of July in Kay’s pool this past Wednesday. We were laughing and chatting (and some of us were inadvertently exposing ourselves). It wasn’t the 4th at Camp Godby, in Spring Knoll, at the Schankerman’s Fireworks Extravaganza, at Lion’s Park, in the DeHaai’s pool. But it was good.
“Are you missing home?” A friend asked as the kids ran off the diving board, one by one.
“Sure,” I admitted. And I was. But not in a sad, weepy way — in a nostalgic, thank-God-I’ve-been-blessed-with-so-much-abundance kind of way.
“And if we hadn’t moved here,” I said, “we wouldn’t have this.” And I looked around at the faces of new friends, good friends, fun friends. The kids were laughing and playing with sparklers. It was where we were supposed to be. There are no accidents, no coincidences. We’re where we are for a reason. It’s not my place to question why, but to embrace the now. To live it. To make something of it.
Perhaps the greatest lesson this past year has taught me is that relationships aren’t about proximity. Hundreds of miles may separate your bodies, but if your hearts are true, the distance doesn’t matter. A few miles may separate you, and it might not be enough to sustain what you once thought to be forever. Lessons learned.
Relationships are about unconditional love and respect and fulfillment and trust and mutual growth. They are not about leaning, they are about lifting.
I’ve watched my kids traverse this 365-day journey, and I’ve been amazed and inspired by their strength and tenacity. They have all faced new challenges, forged new paths, found new friends, fallen, risen, charged ahead. They don’t over-think, they just do.
That’s the key.
This here and now is the only thing we can count on remaining the same. This moment. This very one. I am reminded of that when I look at my 13-year-old son — the one whom doctors didn’t expect to live. I see it in the scars of my friends’ chemo ports, the tentative growth of new hair. I notice it when my mom wobbles along with her cane, when I trace the line of a new wrinkle on her beautiful face. I feel it when my 15-year-old gets behind the wheel. Change is everywhere, it is part of us, it is inevitable. Thinking we can hold on to what we have is a human fallacy.
That doesn’t mean I’m always going to face it with grace and dignity. Or that I promise not to cry and wallow. Or that I’m giving up my red wine. Oh, I’m sure there will be tripping and sprained ankles and self-pity. But I’m going to continue to Baby Step my way toward peace and contentment and acceptance. Bit by bit by bit.
We cannot hold on. We can simply Be. Right here, in this moment. Whether this moment is in Indiana or Mississippi or Timbuktu. This is the one we have.
And I, for one, am grateful for it.