Five years ago I felt like my world collapsed. I honestly thought I was only surviving so that my daughter wouldn’t have to lose both parents. I didn’t want her to feel any more pain than she had to feel. Then in April, I was slapped by death again as I lost my grandma. I kept going because I couldn’t do anything else. In June of that year, death beat me down again as my Dad lost his battle with cancer. Keep moving, wall up the heart and close the gates of emotion. Ha! Not easily done. Honestly? It was probably the worst thing I could have done. But let’s fast forward five years, I think I have dwelt enough in the past.
This weekend I spent some time with friends. It was great! It usually is, I have pretty good friends :). We went to the Mackinaw Valley Vineyard in Mackinaw, Illinois. It was the second time I had been there and it was just as nice as the first. The first time I went with a group of friends to a wine and chocolate tasting, this time, we went and saw a murder mystery. It was so much fun! Dinner was tasty and the company was great! The little murder mystery play was put on by a small company of 2 people, a married couple, with the assistance from audience members. All of this with dinner and dessert in between. The wine you could purchase by the glass or by the bottle from the vineyard. I am partial to the sweet wines and really enjoyed their Edelweiss and Diane’s Desire.
All of that was great, but the nicest and scariest part of the night was when a person that I had gotten to know during the horrible year of pain came up to me and said hi! I haven’t really seen much of anyone from that year in person for quite some time. I was a mess that year and not my best me, so when I run into someone from that year in person I have to stop a second and try to remember through the fog. I remembered her right away of course and was happy to see her. I’ll call her K for the purpose of this post. K looked happy and was with her husband. It was really great to see her happy and to get to spend time with her. The scary part, for me, is the question. The question that everyone who hasn’t seen me since that time asks, “How are you?”. My standard answer is I’m good. I found that this time it’s true. I really am doing good. I mean my life isn’t cake or anything, but it’s good :). I have a great daughter, a wonderful family, awesome friends and a life that I didn’t think would be possible 5 years ago.
The second question I hate getting when I meet someone after a long absence is “What are you doing now?”. I hate this question because when I explain my current life to people I get mixed reactions. I was not able to secure a teaching position after I finished my Master’s in Education degree. I know why and it stings horribly. I have been told by several that I would make a good teacher, so why don’t I have a teaching job? Well several reasons possibly, lots of people looking and few jobs in my area are at the top of the list. But I know the real reason and it bothers me tremendously. That, however, is a story for another day. The main reason I hate this question is because there are those who see my lifestyle as lazy or irresponsible. My choices are my own, for the most part, and I weigh each one heavily. Some do not agree and others just nod as if this all they expected of me. While I don’t always like the path that I have been forced to forge on my own, I am ok with my decisions. Yes, even the ones that I later regret.Why? Because I know that life isn’t easy and it so frequently lobs rocks and digs pitfalls and tries to drown a person at every turn. I have a choice, I can constantly bemoan those rocks, pitfalls, and tons of water, or I can see past all of that to the rainbows, the helping hands, the green trees and the blue skies. I can choose to see the smile on my daughters face or hear the laughter of my friends rather than the tears I have cried and the pain that I endure. Life is about choices and I accept the responsibility of all of my choices, the good and the bad.
My lost acquaintance/friend asked this very question and I asked it of her in return. K seems to be doing well and really likes her job. I am so happy for her! When I told her what I am doing now there was no judgment in her face and for once I didn’t feel worried that this knowledge would cost me a potential relationship. This was also the first time that I called myself a writer, so that was a little scary. I am so glad that I ran into K and her husband! It was nice to see someone from that year of hell and not feel awkward or like an utter failure. K is just as nice as I remember her and I look forward to getting to know her again.
As for the other stuff. I think too much! Here is me, my friends, down and dirty! I am a mother, semi-hoarder(I’m getting better at that), an artist, a teacher, a writer, a gym goer, a pescatarian, an art lover, a B-movie watcher, wine drinking, cussing, animal loving, goofy, middle-aged, young at heart, emotional, thinks too much about herself and not enough about the world around her(working on this too) person. This is me, unapologetically me!
This weekend taught me a little bit more about myself and I am good with what I learned. Also, this weekend rocked! I had good friends surrounding me, good food to eat, good wine to drink and it was amazing!
So here is to you, my friends! May you always have enough of everything! Love to all!