The other day I had a dream. My present self was speaking ever-so-candidly to my past self; maybe about 10 or so years back. She began to explain her future to her and paint a picture of what her life would inevitably be:
You will be living in Indiana, happily married.
You will no longer be teaching; you will have already retired to stay home to raise your children.
You will have survived cancer.
You have a ten year old daughter and twin 6 year old sons.
Indy has passed away and you have 2 black lab puppies.
Two of your children have rare disorders or diseases and you've had to hurdle over very painful and foreign terrain to find your way through those health crises.
"Am I happy?"
"Am I healthy"?
Both in the dream and when I awoke, my breath was taken for a moment and I felt. The emotion wasn't one I recognized, but I think I was perhaps taken aback by the changes that had taken place...the paths in my life's story that re-directed so far from the ones I had tried to write for myself. But I suppose that's really what life is about. We cannot write our own story, though we try and ever so arrogantly think we have command of the situation. We do however, have power to place ourselves on a certain spot on the map, but once we've been placed, the landscape changes so suddenly and leaves you lost, or found, or excited or scared; depending on how adventurous or comfortable with the unknown you are.
It is a whispering into my soul, this dream. To me, it's an affirmation from within and above that today is a day I shall celebrate. And I listen more closely to the sounds of the day; not birthday songs and wishes with balloons or streamers, but the song that shares the story of how I came to be and the evolution of my life, even just this past year.
When these memories of the last handful of months trickle in and then splash through relentlessly flooding my heart, I am left weak with gratitude for our blessings, and more importantly, lessons in life you only learn through loss and pain. Those are the gifts the stars left for me to open today...the messy wrappings strewn all over; evidence you've lived.
Today, though I am full, and happy and content, humbled by loving and friendly wishes and the companionship of my loved ones near, I am more profoundly affected by the lessons this dream stamped on my being:
Life can be turned upside down in a heartbeat leaving you holding on for dear life to whatever faith you have.
My children are the gold and silver and everything beautiful in my treasure box and the core of who I am.
Health is never something to be taken for granted, Death is both a blessing and a devastation to the heart, and friendships are fragile and should never be left to fend for themselves.
Human kindness is palpable and present though it may seem hidden in the dark violence and cruelty of the world, but it will pour over you and quench your thirst for it.
God and His angels beautifully changed my life and gave me the world when they sent me my husband.
My Mother and Father are the roots of the tree that sustain, shelter, protect, nurture and beautify my soul and I still desperately need them even at 42 years of age.
Music is the breath that saves you when you need resuscitation.
Prayer is powerful and Hope heals.
Puppies are precious.
When you fight, hope, believe, pray and stay rooted in all that matters, something happens.
Strength often hides within, but shows its greatness in desperate times.
There are such things as superheroes and warriors and they exist in little people with huge, resilient powers.
When you make peace with what is to be, your life changes and miracles open up like budding roses around you.
There is NOTHING worse than tough love.
When you have seen one child suffer, your soul is changed forever; when you've seen two...some part of it breaks away for good.
The everyday miracles appear before you when you're facing hell. They help you appreciate the mundane and the magnificent even more.
A person shows their truest of colors in the face of adversity and sometimes you must lower your expectations or lessen your standards... even of the ones you love.
I have learned that at the end of the day, in the middles of the quiet of the darkest most dreaded night, when you feel lonely, afraid and as if your world is falling apart, the sunshine in the morning, the deep breath, and a moment with your stillness, will get you far.
I have learned that my being is better by being around my kids, my best friend, my dogs and my comfort.
I have learned that comfort comes with time and familiarity and patience.
I am captivated in the story I'm reading of myself....wondering where the next chapter will take us, though finally understanding quite well, the epic surprises and twists that lead to gasps of joy or jars of pain, still make it beautiful...because it's mine...because it's ours. Because when the world slows down and the rain turns to just a gentle sprinkle and the stars blanket the darkness that appeared so scary and ominous, there is joy. There is life. There is strength and hope and recovery. Grief will turn to gratitude and pain can emerge in us, something so unexpectedly profound and promising.
Today is my birthday. Today is my birthyear. To begin again with new eyes and new perspective. To cautiously and carefully use the past to protect the future. To let go, and let in, the light that shines within.