Butterflies have so much symbolism. They represent new life, loved ones lost, love, the list goes on. I know I’ve seen so many butterflies lately and have smiled each time. Tonight as I sat down I got to thinking about what the butterfly means to me.
It’s always been a wonder how a caterpillar could emerge from a cocoon and transform into something so beautiful. Maya Angelou said, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” That is so very true. In this process of going through grief you feel like you are in a cocoon. You inch along and curl up and don’t want to come out into the world. In that process you go through an enormous amount of change. You finally realize that this change is inevitable and you emerge from your cocoon.
You fear spreading your wings and it takes a little time to get the hang of this new life but it happens. When it does you learn to fly. Your wings are fragile but they carry you through. The winds may blow and knock you down but you get back up again and learn to adapt.
Butterflies show us that we can go through some intense and dark times and still find something beautiful in the process. Then there’s that feeling of butterflies. You pray you are able to feel them again and find happiness and love. You test your wings again and you may get knocked down, but just as before you get back up and fly again in hopes that you eventually soar.
I read the quote, “If you don’t sacrifice for what you want, what you want becomes the sacrifice.” It struck a chord with me for sure. Part of this journey is reprioritizing life. I thought I knew what I wanted, what path my life was taking, and who the key players in my life would be. That all got thrown out the window almost a year ago. Since that day it has been about maintaining “normalcy” for the kids and trying to figure out what my new priorities are.
Always, always, the kids are number one. Even that was a change. BK, before kids, Mark would always say our relationship was the priority because there would be a day when the kids would be out of the house and it’d just be us, and we were an “us” before they were ever there. Well now there is a new outlook to relationships.
Most likely the person I’ll end up seeing will have kids. My kids, and theirs, will be the priority since the kids will have been in the picture before an “us” is to be. Even most of my friends have kids. Does that mean that I need to sacrifice whatever time I have to being Mom 100%? While I originally thought yes, the answer is really no. I’m learning that I can’t sacrifice my happiness for being Mom 100% of the time. Yes, they make me happy (and stressed) but there comes a time when you realize you need more companionship in life than an 8, 12, and 14 year old. It is true, there will be a day when they are out of the house and then what? Who will be there to fill those moments that have been filled with soccer, ballet, robotics, school events, and more?
My time with friends and those relationships become so valuable to give me those moments to be me. I used to think that was selfish. Now I know it’s not. As new factors come into my life it becomes a constant state of reprioritizing. It’s a constant struggle of the guilt my mind throws my way and what my heart and gut says it needs. I’m learning to trust my heart and gut. I’m learning what I really want at this point and where I want to go. It’s a process of growing and becoming. It’s a process of learning that kids, work, and relationships of all types have a place and importance in life. My kids always know I’m here for them and cheer them on in life and that I love them unconditionally. Like that quote, I’m learning that if I don’t sacrifice some time doing what I truly want then happiness and my personal growth becomes the sacrifice. When you realize that we are never promised tomorrow (as I’ve completely learned firsthand) you go out and make the most of today.
This is been another few days of mixed emotions, culminating into a moment where I was not as strong as I thought I could be. For the most part life is moving forward and the kids and I are settling into our new normal. It has been a week of unexpected surprises and blessings mixed in with just unexpected. There have been so many little signs that have been sent my way to let me know I’m on the right path.
A small moth remained camped on my front screen for two days. I almost thought it was stuck there. Then on Thursday morning I saw it as I left for work. When I came home, it was gone. At that moment there was a sense that felt like life really had moved on. Then cue Friday, June 8th. I sat at my desk writing the date when I realized why it was so familiar. June 8th, 2018 would’ve been our 15 year anniversary. I sat there for a moment and wouldn’t you know it, a tiny moth made it’s way into my office. It fluttered around the computer as to say there was a gift that was sent from afar, a gift of selfless love to give me the ability to continue to move forward on this journey of life. Almost as if it was Mark’s way of blessing all the decisions I’ve been making. I know in my heart he has sent some blessings himself.
The rest of the weekend has been filled with little moments of unexpected moth friends, at the movies, by my car, in the hallway… until today. Today, nothing. The kids are away having a great time with family and celebrating the start of summer. I am having some much needed me time, not mom time, but me time. Time to just be Sarah. Well, in those me times some of my biggest vulnerabilities come to surface. When you really allow yourself to just be open and to truly feel you make yourself susceptible to so many sort of emotions. This afternoon was one of those times where I realize I am not as strong as I think I am, and that’s okay.
I sat in my dark hallway and thought of the 8th that had just gone by, the turn my life is taking, events that are coming up this week , and those moments that you long for and started crying. It was tears that caught me off guard but tears that keep me in check that I’m still human. I share this with you, not to make anyone feel bad, but to show those moments of true vulnerability are okay. Tears are okay. That while so many think I am always strong, my smile does hide many of the insecurities I feel and when I am not as strong as I think, that’s okay too.
How do you honor a life? By definition memory means “a capacity for showing effects as the result of past treatment or for returning to a former condition.” How do you honor the memory of a life? Simply put, to live.
Being able to emerge from the depths of grief and live again is a blessing. I still remember the day when I felt my heart was dead to the world. That every heartbeat was merely pumping the blood through my body for an existence that I questioned. That feeling pain was welcomed because it meant I hadn’t died along with him. In those moments I couldn’t see past each hour and sometimes each minute. In those moments, there was life but not living. Grief was strong but grief was not honoring the life lived, it was a heart that was broken for a life that was lost.
Every day I wished for a fast forward button to push through those moments. I would get so angry that time seemed to stand still. I would cry until I couldn’t catch my breath. Looking back, I now know I had to go through those moments to learn to live. Yes, go through, not get over. You never get over a loss but you learn to go through the process.
Today I realize that to truly honor the man that was, is to live the life that is. My existence and being today wouldn’t be the same if I had not gone through life with him or the grief of losing him. We cannot change the circumstances of the past so we must learn to move forward with the moments life gives us now. Each beat of my heart now pumps blood through a body that is able to feel again and live a life with purpose. It is amazing to be in each moment and to feel not only pain, but to feel joy, love, and happiness. I know that is a gift he continues to give me each day. I treasure the memories from the past with hopes for the future. To live each day with purpose and find meaning in each moment is truly honoring a life.
Another middle of the night moment where I’m wide awake. I realized we are almost at June 1st. The significance is that it is the halfway mark of the year. It is a moment to reflect on all those resolutions and thoughts we made on January 1st. This year there were no resolutions for me. My thought was just to get through the dang year.
We are at the halfway point of this year. I’m getting through it all right. Not even close to the person in December who still tried to take in all the advice people gave. It’s not that I don’t care, I do. The thing about it though, is that when you go through tragedy you can never come out of it the same person. Your outlook will be forever changed.
The one advice people keep giving me is to “guard your heart.” I totally get it. No one wants to see me go through pain again. That is a part of life. The way I see it is that I’ve realized how incredibly short life can be so it is up to us to make the most of each day. So my new rules for life are to live hard and live every day with passion for whatever I do. Love hard in life because it could not possibly hurt as much as it did to lead me here and you never know what beauty can emerge unless you give it your all. Never have regrets. I strongly believe that you truly only regret the chances you never took. Unapologetically be yourself. The people who are meant to be in your life will accept you for who you are. Finally, find beauty in every moment because it’s there if you open your heart and your mind.
Ah, my snow globe. Life in the snow globe has become quite comfortable. I am used to people asking me all kinds of questions and giving all sorts of advice (wanted and unwanted). There are definitely days when the snow globe gets turned upside down and I wait for those little specs of snow to settle, they always do. Then there are those moments of quiet reflection when the rest of the world is so busy that I have a moment to truly look at me when no one is watching. This afternoon was one of those moments.
The kids and I spent a better part of the day cleaning up the house and getting rid of clutter. Fights broke out over who left an empty milk carton in the fridge and which one of them had to take out the trash. I remained quiet hoping they would figure it out on their own. Eventually they settled after quite a few eye rolls and huge grunts. In that moment I was so proud of them. No, not for fighting, but for working things out on their own. I keep saying as long as I keep them fed, clothed, alive and out of trouble, we’re doing good. This moment was icing on the cake. They then packed up their things to spend the night with their aunt which means one thing… I get the whole house to myself!
YES!!!! What to do? What to do? I walked by the newly cleaned mirrors and stopped. I caught myself off guard for a moment. The person looking back at me was not the same person from before. Yes, I’ve lost 20 pounds since September but it’s staying off because I’m working out, not to lose weight, but to relieve stress and just as a mental break. Yet that wasn’t the reason why I almost didn’t recognize that person looking back at me. What was it? No make up on and hair not straightened? I’ve done that before so that wasn’t it. A look of contentment? Yes! At that moment, in the solitude and peace of home I could see the woman I am continuing to evolve into on this journey and I am content.
I am learning to continuously let go of every idea I thought was who I am supposed to become and just enjoy the moments in becoming who I am meant to be. Who is that? Who knows? The fact that I could look at myself in my yoga pants with my undone face and hair and be happy is a blessing. After a week where I cried myself to sleep one night due to pure exhaustion, both emotionally and mentally, and woke up to face another day I would’ve never thought I’d have this moment of contentment. Here it was.
Here I was looking into the eyes of a woman who is learning it is okay to cry and break down and not be strong all the time. It is okay to smile and find happiness as a widow. It is okay to accept what being a widow is and appreciate the life and person who gave me that title, and it is okay to let go. It felt like I needed permission to let go. The truth is I don’t. No one needs permission to want to be happy. To let go of the past and look forward to the future while accepting yourself in the process is also okay. To not care what others think and to be content with life in my snow globe on any given day, well that is a blessing.
Wide awake. I’ve been waking up again at the most random times wide awake. Most of the time if you wake me up in the middle of the night I make no sense whatsoever. Occassionally, like today, there are no complaints because the thoughts that come into my head give me clarity on how this crazy journey has transformed over time. A great friend reminded me that it is about the journey.
Most journeys start with a destination in mind. This one didn’t and that was the best thing ever. Not having a set plan allowed me to take in everything and sort out what was important, what I thought I needed, and what became new paths I never thought to take. Those new paths are where the blessings are found. The important part about taking unchartered paths is to keep your mind and eyes open to every moment and possibility. Be thankful for each moment and each person that shares in the journey.
I do believe in the law of attraction. As I go along this journey I find the more I am thankful for everything and everyone, the more there is to be thankful for. Yes, be thankful for the negative and trying times as well. It is not easy but that is where real growth takes place. In those challenging times I’ve been pushed to limits I never knew existed. A side of me I never knew before came out, not in a bad way either. At that moment, the journey was about deconstructing who I thought I was to become the person I am now. To be grateful for the person I was becoming, am becoming.
It’s true, what we think we become. Through the dark moments I was able to find that one spark that let me think happy. The more I thought happy on this journey, the more moments and people entered my life to create more happy moments and continue to do so. These are the true blessings. These are the moments that allow me to go to bed at night and wake up being grateful for this life and all that has happened. The scars from the past will always remain but are a reminder of the life that has been lived so far. The journey ahead still has no destination but the companions travelling with me along this path and the moments being created are more than I could’ve asked for.