Yesterday was a sad day.
They are few lately but I knew from the second I woke up yesterday that it was going to be long and hard. I also knew that I was going to need a good cry.
Two nights ago we went to cut down our very first live Christmas tree. It was so much fun, especially for Nora, and I could tell that we made some really special memories. My whole goal in doing this was not so that the kids will start to forget our old family traditions but so that we can begin to make new ones that will be significant from this point on. Our family looks different than it once did and it is still a challenge every day to help put them at ease about that but I really want to incorporate things into our lives, and especially special holidays, that will help us all feel like this new chapter is just as special as it once was. And eventually, I hope that these new memories that we are making will resonate within them a time of happiness and a time of joy.
Sadly, I am always going to feel like Nora and Braden were dealt a kind of crappy hand very early in this life. I know that kids in divorce situations feel a sense of sadness and loss among a million other things but on top of that, these children are going to have to experience the death of their sister; something that we know is going to happen eventually.
That alone is just so unfair. Add in a whole lot of selfish behavior and a really rotten, trivial situation and it makes for some quite obvious sadness, hurt and anger.
I feel like the kids have been exposed to a harsh truth way too early on. A lesson that I didn't learn in whole until more recently, and that is simply that nothing in this wicked world lasts forever.
Some things have the potential to last a very long time. But down to the very breath that we depend on from day to day, everything runs out eventually.
That sounds so depressing even for me to write. But my point in writing it is that although it makes me sad for them, I hope that it will also help me strengthen and empower them. What I find myself doing now that I've truly learned and accepted this 'nothing lasts forever' truth is:
Trying to live and love in the here and now.
Whether love walks away, whether love dies, whether Mabel dies or the dog dies or the house is lost or the clothes are burned or the car is wrecked or the friendships are over EVENTUALLY....
If love is here and alive now, if we are living in the house today, if the van has gas in it and the washer works and there are clothes to put in it and the dog is barking...
then I am going to live today and I am going to try be very, overly, remarkably joyful doing it.
But that doesn't necessarily come easy.
In fact all of that is simple to type and think and hope to live by but in reality it's very hard to do. We live in the world and we have real emotions. We long to have true reassurance about people, relationships and things that are in our day to day. Sometimes that reassurance comes and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it comes and it is false anyway. Sometimes it doesn't come and out of nothing comes the truest and purest form of love.
Either way, it is difficult to just accept whatever is in front of us, exactly true to how it is and live with it. But I feel like if we can at least try, we are doing ourselves a great favor.
This is what I hope that my oldest children will grasp from this year that has brought so many changes for them.
There was no real reason for me to feel sad yesterday only several things that needed to be cried about at once, apparently. Sometimes I let many weeks go by before I break down and have a good old fashioned 'Mabel's going to die' cry. This time there were some holiday woes thought over, some 'I don't want to end up alone' fears examined and some really angry thoughts released.
All in all the cry ended up being healing as it always is but the day didn't get much more happy for me. I sort of just let it be what it was and went with it.
And then today I woke up and gave Mabel a bath. She loves bath time and water. She splashed and I sang. She smiled and I felt a huge lump in my throat.
The sadness is always sort of lingering because there is an incomprehensible reality that one day I won't be able to give her a bath anymore. That one little thought can quickly spiral into a trillion and before I know it I'll be a weeping mess on the bathroom floor with the sweetest girl giggling at my antics.
So today I didn't. I made the very clear choice to just be happy, keep singing and enjoy every little thing about bathing that 3 1/2 year old beauty. I dressed her happily. I combed each one of her perfect curls and watched the hair fall perfectly from the brush as I did. I snuggled her up in the towel and then her blanket and I made her smile when I said her name.
Even in all the sadness, there are great moments of joy. It is often very purposeful. It is sometimes even forced, but regardless it is true and pure and right.
And it is mine.
This happy. This sad. These days.
They are mine to have and I am so grateful.
What an amazing gift this fleeting life truly is.