On New Year's Eve
I can't avoid looking back though. It's too much a part of my nature. My friends and family are frequently surprised at the things I remember, and I guess that my quirky, velcro (sticking to the soft, fluffy bits of information) memory is actually a gift. I enjoy having a good and facile memory, but like all gifts, it has its down side. I tend to get stuck in the past. Add in the illness of depression, and I tend to get stuck in the saddest parts of my past. I have so much for which to be grateful, and so today, when I look back at the past, I'm going to do my best to focus on what is good and wonderful.
I received the first of many wonderful gifts very early in my life. I was adopted when I was six weeks old by parents who wanted another little girl. Before I could appreciate what I had, I had parents of sterling character who loved me and raised me well. I still want to live up to their dreams for me. I had grandparents who were a loving and quiet presence in my life, whose strength still inspires me. I had a big sister who's still a good example for me and someone who, despite how different we are, loves and understands me like no one else. Because of this gift, I have a heritage which is a large part of who I am. Every family has its problems, and mine certainly had its share (note the getting stuck in the past thing), but when I look back at my family, I can see love, strength, character, humor, charm, graciousness, fortitude, accomplishment and the grace of God.
I can see the presence and love of God all throughout my life. There have been times when God was so present that my worst times of doubt were still underlain by the knowledge of a very real, loving, actively involved God in this world. Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, thank you.
I've always been a bit of a loner, quick to build walls to prevent anyone from getting close enough to hurt me, stupid enough not to know that I was keeping people away rather than people not wanting to be close to me. Despite and maybe because of this, I've been blessed with such good friends. I don't have many friends, but oh, the ones I have, both in tangible life and online are incredible. I don't know what I've done to receive so much love, but thank you all. You really mean more to me than I am capable of expressing.
My clumsiness has actually been a gift. Despite the collection of canes, crutches, braces, and walkers, blushing cheeks and nose breaks I've accumulated over the years, somehow almost every fall and accident has ended up providing me with a laugh and a funny story. Being a klutz taught me to laugh at myself, and that has to be one of the biggest gifts anyone can have.
Sadness has taught me to appreciate happiness and to trust that neither lasts forever. Looking back at my marriage, I still get stuck in the troubles we had, but I know that despite all of that we had something special. My husband not only accepted me for who and what I am, he loved me for the whole package. That was so special, I never got to the point where I could take it for granted, even when my heart was broken with all the other stuff. I got to spend many years with a sweet, gentle, loving man. He taught me more about being in the moment, truly accepting people without judging them, taking life as it comes, and laughing through most of it more than anyone. He was a rare and special man, and it was an honor to be his wife.
On the relationship level, if there's anything harder than sustaining a good marriage, it's raising a child. I'd always figured that fertility wouldn't be one of my strengths, and I was right. I'll never forget praying to have a child and (in one of those incredible moments of divine presence) knowing I would and soon. Mere weeks later, I found out I was pregnant. My pregnancy and labor were both very difficult, but it all felt like a miracle. Even now, 18 years later, that tingle runs through me with what a gift it was to conceive and bear a child. That tingle goes straight to the bone when I realized that a whole new realm of love had been opened to me. I am not the same woman I was before I had a child, and I'm grateful for that. And oh, that child! I could write rhapsodies about her. Heck, I practically have. We've been through a lot together, some of it incredibly, incredibly difficult, things I wouldn't wish on anybody, and I am constantly amazed by her. My beautiful baby became an adorable child, an awesome adolescent and is becoming such a fine, unique woman. Thank you for being in my life. We still need to have a talk about grades and curfew while you're home.
I do have many good memories, and that gives me hope for the future. While grief and sadness are still a big part of my present, there will be good to come. I know it.