My heath activist challenge ended faster than I expected. I got side tracked with life and my personal commitments. I guess I should have expected that since life has a way of catching up with me.
My cousin got married this weekend and I attended that wedding. I got to see family had I had not seen in a long time. I looked my cousins and wondered if their lives had gone as they originally planned. I know that mine has not. I was supposed to stay married to my older son’s father and live happily ever after but that didn’t happen. I always wanted to be a stay at home mom because I wanted to be able to say that I had a major role in raising my children but that did not happen either. I had no aspirations of a career back then nor to be working my butt off and having nothing to show for it either. I thought that a fairy tale life existed. Now I know better.
Knowing better doesn’t mean that I don’t wonder what it would be like if my life had turned out as I originally planned. However, I know that nothing ever turns out as we plan. If that was the case, then life would be easy. An old friend once told me that if you want God to laugh, tell him your plans. None of us know our destinies better than the Almighty and wishing we had it one way doesn’t change anything.
At some level, I do I wish that my life had turned out as I originally planned. My daughters would still be in my life and that perfect image that my father wanted would have remained untarnished. (That perfect image from Dad’s perspective meant that we would have so called “normal” lives – getting married, having kids, and living happily ever after.) Truth be told – I loved the man but he was boring and unrealistic. Looking back, however, his boring personality gave me stability and I didn’t realize it back then. These days, I welcome that stability because my life couldn’t be any less stable. I cannot have something I never really had. After all, stability is a state of mind and the only stability I ever had was as a kid and now, I only wonder why I wanted to grow up so fast.
The older we get the more we want to cling to the past and not so much because it was wonderful but because it makes us feel safe. When my father was alive, I think that is the happiest I have ever been in my entire life and I didn’t realize it back then. My siblings and I were all in the same place and the only thing I worried about was my parents not giving in to what I wanted. I wouldn’t trade those memories for a million bucks.
I wouldn’t trade the fights with my sisters and badgering my brothers for anything. I wouldn’t trade the time that my aunt visited with my four cousins and we were all packed into one car like a can of sardines headed to the beach. I wouldn’t trade that picnic we had and all the shoving and pushing that day for anything in the world. I wouldn’t trade my father’s beaming smile on that day. I wouldn’t trade the laughter shared between my mom and my aunt that day. I wouldn’t trade the times in our basement when we played secret clubhouse or when we ran around our neighborhood without a care in the world. I wouldn’t trade crawling backwards in our long hallway pretending we were superheroes climbing down a building. I wouldn’t trade any of those memories to have the life I originally planned for. Those memories mean that my father and my brother were once here. They also mean that my first cousin, who was the big brother I never had and who died at age 20 trying to save a drowning friend, was once here.
The fact is that even though life’s circumstances have separated us we are all looking for the same thing: stability. I don’t pretend to know what anyone else is looking for but I do know that humans look for something that is familiar because it gives us stable ground to stand on. And after all is said and done, we go back to our lives. See, even if I wondered for one second about the life I had originally planned, I have so much that I wouldn’t trade to have it. I wouldn’t trade my old memories growing up and I wouldn’t trade my new ones raising my kids and trying to make a future full of new memories with them. I look at my children and I see everything that I am and everything I have worked for and I could not be any more blessed than I am right now. As I result, I am grateful that life led me here to place where I really belong – here in the present. It is not the life that I originally planned but it is the life that God planned for me. And God knows better than I do what is best for me.