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.
Life is ever evolving from one moment into the next. We can’t stop it no matter how hard we try. We must learn to adapt to these changes and to live in the moment before it passes us. There is no way to turn back the hands of time which made me realize there should also be no “what ifs.”
After Mark died, I had many of those “what if” moments. Those what ifs carried on into other aspects of life. I started realizing that those what ifs were crippling my ability to recover from what was the most catastrophic loss I had ever gone through. I needed to stop second guessing moments and decisions and learn to embrace the now. Learning to adapt to what had become my new normal seemed like a monumental task.
Once I could see that nothing about the past could or would change, it forced me to change my mindset. My life at hand was the cards I was dealt and how was I going to deal with it? The only thing I could control at that point was the way I looked at life. It would’ve been so easy to be gloom and doom and succumb to grief and pain I felt. Those who know me, know I’ve never taken the easy road so I wasn’t about to start now. I was looking down the path of a life I had not chosen for myself. What direction I moved in was a choice I could make. I still remind myself of this to this very day.
I still have moments where tears roll down my cheeks. Now, many times they are happy tears at least. Like right now, as I write this I can feel my eyes “leaking” thinking of how much my life has changed since September. How those negative feelings have evolved into being extremely thankful for the blessings I am surrounded by. I know Mark has played a huge part in sending them my way. I’ve learned to make sure I walk, love, and live with purpose, and teach my children to do the same.
The lyrics to “Little Wonders” have been playing though my head a lot lately, especially on the drive home this evening: “Let it go. Let it roll right off your shoulder, don’t you know, the hardest part is over… Our lives are made in these small hours, these little wonders, these twists and turns of fate.” Was the hardest part really over like the lyrics say? Quite possibly. The hardest part was to learn to get rid of the what ifs in life and live and find happiness in the life ahead of me. When I thought of how those twists of turns of fate brought me to that exact moment in my car I saw a beautiful sight outside. A hole in the cloudy sky showed a rainbow sliding through it with another ray of light beaming down the opposite end and what was an orb of light coming down. I can’t explain any of it, but I know it was probably Mark’s way of showing me that yes, life still has happiness and love in it in the most unexpected ways. The life that is still yet to be lived is a true gift and I am thankful for each and every moment.
Today’s entry had my tearing up before I could ever start writing it. Some sadness but mainly out of the many beautiful blessings that have emerged from a tragic loss. Gifts Mark has left so many.
Yesterday Mark would’ve turned 40. While it is normally a cause for celebration, we had a chill day at home. The kids sang happy birthday a few times and we went about our day doing things we thought would make him proud. Throughout the day I would get messages from friends and family. The ones that touched me were the ones that talked about the gifts Mark gave them after his passing.
Now I’m not talking about money or items, rather time and love. People who were inspired to live healthier. People who took a good look at their life and reprioritized what was important to them. People who have grown stronger with their significant others. That is the one that touches me the most.
Mark was always one who would put my needs before his own. Even as I write this I have to wipe the tears away because he continues to do so. When I’ve questioned moments in my life and paths I’m starting to take, I ask for a sign. Those signs have been nothing short of spectacular. From a circular rainbow in the sky to a small white butterfly guiding the way to a beautiful rainbow that disappeared as quickly as it came (it appeared just long enough for me to find it and take a picture). These gifts from heaven felt like validation. Validation that the butterflies are real and that life does move on. To be able to live that life with people who fill it with laughter, love, happiness, and friendship feels like his gift to me and the best way to honor him. Thank you Mark.
Our outlook on life greatly determines our resilience. If you have no reason or purpose to bounce back from a situation, what is your motivation to get up? Being able to get through these past six months has nothing to do with being a good person or being strong. The strength has come from the people around me. The ability to get up every morning comes from purpose. That purpose is driven by the hope that each new day brings something wonderful. It is that outlook on life that has given me the resilience to live life. To learn to truly measure each day not by minutes or seconds, but by the memories made, the laughter heard, and those moments where a smile becomes contagious.
Time and memories are funny things. At any given time the most random of memories can pop into your head. There was a massive rainstorm last night and I finally walked through my front door after two hours in traffic. I looked at the clock and thought of how exhausted I was. I looked at the living room and thought of the dance. Dance? Yes, The Dance.
Literally hours before Mark gained his eternal dancing wings, we danced in our living room. For as long as I can remember I can picture times Mark would just grab my hand and twirl me around wherever we were. He would joke that that he had no rhythm and wasn’t a great dancer but that I made him look good. I would laugh and say he was right. In those moments we would dance, we would laugh and always remember what brought us together, no matter what was going in our life.
Well, our final dance is one I will always remember. There was no music, no song, there was just us. As I stood up to get ready to go upstairs to bed, Mark stood up. He pulled me close and I rested my head on his chest. I listened to his heart beating and that was the most beautiful sound. He twirled me around and I rested my hands on his neck and looked into his eyes before resting my head back on his chest. I remember thinking how I wish that moment could stay frozen in time. Now I know it is.
Ever since then I have been thinking what a blessing it was to have that moment. To be able to find joy in the most unexpected of places and at the most unexpected times is also a blessing. It is as if last night Mark was sending me the gift of learning to dance again through that memory. I always think of the saying, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” I have found that rhythm again to dance in the rain and learning to live life as that rainbow starts to appear.
I know I’m on a journey. I was in a labyrinth this past Thursday, literally. A labyrinth by definition is a “complicated irregular network of passages or paths in which it is difficult to find one’s way.” You could say this journey that I’m on is in a labyrinth. We had an employee well being fair at work. I went to the fair to see what was being offered. There were long lines for facials, massages, mini make up sessions, but there was one item that had no line. There was no one waiting to go into the labyrinth.
Let me back up to the start of my day on Thursday. Those who know me, know I can be pretty superstitious. I was totally looking forward to the end of my week and Friday afternoon. Thinking about that while doing my makeup for work on Thursday, I noticed a small white moth that was fluttering around me. I thought for a moment it must be Mark. It didn’t really bother me but it kept flying around as if to tell me he was there. I finished getting ready and off to work I went. Fast forward to the well being fair.
As my friend Kim and I walked by the room with the labyrinth laid out inside, Chaplain Josh encouraged us to go in and walk it. We both said why not try it. So we sat in the chairs and listened as we were given instructions on what to do. First we had to find our focus of what we wanted to think about as we walked. I had absolutely no clue! I took off my shoes and as my feet hit the ground, heart came to mind. Why not? The center of the labyrinth seemed appropriate to focus on heart so I went with it.
As it took my first steps I knew I wasn’t alone. Kim was walking her own journey but I was walking mine with someone else next to me, Mark. I knew he was there guiding me through the twists and irregular turns that made me uncomfortable at times. I got to the center and asked in my head if he was the one who said heart and the answer was yes. My mind questioned why and once again I could feel Mark telling me to open my heart and move forward. I could hear his thoughts saying he brought me to this point but now my heart was to find its own way, without him. I could feel a tear roll down my cheek as I quickly wiped it away. I didn’t want Mark to go but I knew and he knew it was time. It was time for me to truly start on this next journey.
As I took my first step out of the center of the labyrinth and back on the maze to get back out, I was alone. Mark was no longer there to guide me. This journey and phase of life was one I was to discover on my own, in a way. I knew I had to keep my heart open to the possibilities and people life was about to bring my way and for the first time I knew I would not always be alone on that road. There would be new journeys and people to share it with, journeys of the heart. Those irregular twists and turns on the way back were no longer uncomfortable, but a way to grow and a way discover new things about myself. It was to find happiness and excitement in the unknown, to be able to find the good in every thing.
The walk to my car after work that day showed me a new friend. There wasn’t a moth but instead a butterfly. Friday morning and afternoon too, another butterfly. The labyrinth was the beginning of a new phase and I took those butterflies as signs. Maybe, just maybe, my snow globe is starting to crack so I can venture out and continue to see what life has in store.
There are so many changes and variables in life that are constantly coming at us. We sometimes ask why? I’ve learned that’s a pointless question to ask. I’ve also learned that I do have some amount of control over where some of these pieces fall into place, kind of like Tetris.
As the pieces come at me I can try to choose where they go. Just like the game, sometimes I made good choices and they fit. Other times, well, we’ll call it learning. Yet even in the moments where the pieces don’t fit exactly how you’d like, you can arrange the other pieces around it to make the most of the situation. That’s life!
We can try to take control of our lives as much as possible but there are times we just need to make the most of a situation. Instead of playing the victim, take control of the other variables and become the victor. When we do that, we master the game. I’m no where near there yet but life is a game I’m learning to have fun with again.