Tag Archives: future

4637 words about Tim

I’m going to time travel and remember…..

I was a true-blue Vancouver stoner from a broken family, whose generational sin helped alter all our lives. I put no substance into relationships but instead chained myself to pot, both to escape the reality as it was and to embrace the culture around me. I was indulging in teenage sex but had no self-worth in me to secure anything deeper than painfully meaningless embraces. 19 years old with no high school diploma in a lousy job with nothing on the horizon but monotonous emptiness. I was lost, but I only vaguely felt that back then; ha! Looking back at Christina, a young adult with so little insight into where her life would go – no real motivation to steer it – I am dumbfounded that I didn’t notice how unfortunate things had become…

Right now, sitting at these keys overlooking a little fishing bay, on an island stretching the southern-most tip of Texas, I am 32 years old, and I thank GOD I can remember where adulthood began and see very little materially-similar evidence that I am still like her at all. Today, it is my wish to talk through one of the most significant and impactful periods of my life that had everything to do with me leaving Vancouver and led me to where I am today. A time which shaped me and has since become one of the more difficult challenges I face: Letting myself be loved and loving someone else. I guess to start I’ll go back to where everything changed for me. From a wandering lost young woman to…

“Welcome back!” she smiled, ushering in an elderly couple with two laminated menus pointing the way to their usual table. As they took their seats, she took a khaki windbreaker to hang from his hand, “Frank, let me get your coffee. Ruth, do you want ice tea or coffee tonight?” Katherine walked three steps to the counter behind their table, set down his jacket, and fetched a hot carafe of decaf, turning back around to pour it in Frank’s mug just as Ruth decided she wanted tea. “All right, I’ll be right back.”

The restaurant was slow for a Saturday night though the constant rain had made the entire week lag during every 6-hour shift. She busied herself organizing glassware, refilling syrup containers, and chatting up the other idle waitresses. She took orders, made side salads, and stacked receipts to collect payment from sporadic satisfied patrons.

The entryway door jingled startling Katherine from mindlessly wiping the soda machine, she looked up.

This is one of life’s movie moments – as I call them (really, I just now made this up). Like when you hold your child for the first time, or walk down the aisle to your future – so in love, or when your daughter rides her bike without training wheels after you tried to teach her for days, or when you watch the baby take her first steps. Moments. Sometimes we do not know we are in them until they are too far gone to grasp, and only after looking back, if one’s heart is open, may you really appreciate the beautiful gift it was.

In that moment, a plan was realized in two perfectly imperfect strangers. In that moment, seeing him for the first time, a grand part of my personal story began to take shape.

I began writing this yesterday (Wednesday) and stopped there because I wanted to go deep about what I remember, and make certain I am honest here. For a lot of people who know me personally, there is increasing uncomfortable feelings looming in them whenever I write about this part of my life (I have been told, from a few different sources, that I should not delve into this anymore – I should be “over it” by now… so imagine the strength it takes to directly oppose that by going still deeper into it!)

The truth is, I do not believe this corridor of my history deserves anything less than this. It does not deserve to be forgotten, swept under the rug – there are countless reasons why I feel my work here is not yet done, and perhaps why it may never be done – I write things like this to explain why…

When I met him, my life had little direction. As I mentioned in the forward to the story I had been living at less-than my potential for quite some time. Though I was yet a young woman, and it seemed the world could have been broadened and my experiences more positive, I lacked the one very necessary ingredient that I could have used to change my circumstances alone: Self-belief. I did not believe I was going to do much, because I didn’t feel like much. Things had not gone right for me for many years, and the crushing blow of recent life events (or lack thereof) only furthered my self-doubt.

I sought love, but in the circle of friends I surrounded myself with – the parties, the alcohol, the pot, and the frivolous handing out of my most sacred self in the absence of love – it left me drained with little substance to hold. Love, though I sought it from others, was not found in my heart, not for me, and certainly not for anyone else.

Knowing this, back then? You could have asked my 19-year-old self and my answers then to these same notions would have been vastly different. The stirring of loneliness, the continual self-criticism, the escapism by way of drugs or drinking – – I could not have guessed that things were about to be so different, and I was about to find myself on a path towards all I had silently hoped for but could not have believed I would find.

That is who I was, and what I believed about myself. That these young men I spent so much time chasing, with their empty promises and, “I can’t date you because of your brothers…” After they used me for all it seemed I had to give, it left me thinking I must not be good for much else. If only one of them would get to know who I was before my world was broken. Before I stopped believing in myself. If only someone would dig deep, and see who I really was, I thought, then maybe, just maybe, things could be different… I had more to give, I just stopped believing that it even mattered.

That’s when I met him.

Katherine wiped the table just two rows over from theirs, glanced up towards the handsome man facing her from his booth, and saw him smile. He held his coffee cup to his mouth and drank it quickly, still smiling at her when he was done. She blushed intensely, marveled at the butterflies swirling in her chest, and tried to pretend like she didn’t care.

The truth was, she did care. Something about him was familiar from the moment their mutual friend introduced them. Justin made small talk with his dinner mate, Katherine waited tables, and Dylan planned his move – scribbling his name and telephone number on the outside of a used sugar packet. Out of character for a shy machinist, he never did things like that, but he had to know her.

The following two weeks found us together most of the time. I remember it so well, so much so that I often laugh at my memory when it comes to this. I remember wanting to do it differently and wait for things to go from friendly to intimate – something I didn’t normally even consider let alone put into practice. I wanted to get to know him, in a way I had not wanted to know anyone else.

I’ve often questioned the next two years of time spent with him, and believe now, some 13 years later since I met Tim, that I may never know what the purpose was. Because it was the first-time I was truly loved, and the first time I truly loved anyone else, but more than that – though not to minimize it – it was in that span of time I learned to trust another person, and myself, and I felt how good it was to be able to plan our future. I knew my future. I knew our life together, and what that would look like. I knew our children’s names and how he’d be the sort of old man who would wear overalls with a bandana sticking out of his back pocket as he mowed the lawn, and I’d be the sort of old woman who would bring him tea and use that bandana to wipe his sweat away before I kissed him just like I had done for 45 years.  I knew that he would drive me nuts and I would make him crazy because we believed differently about the world, the afterlife, and we would be the sort to bicker in diners over hot coffee but then go home and love each other because none of that compared to how deeply love went.

We were to live a simple life in the material sense, but greater than most have felt would have been our love. If he were here now, sitting here, remembering all of this with me as I dictate our thoughts, I know for certain he would agree that the one thing that made us so special, the reason it has been so hard, is that we loved each other in a rare fashion and that was the thing that promised to keep us together for the rest of our lives.

Only, it wasn’t meant to do that, and here is where my mood shifts from that of reverence for the great love I got to know, to blistering bitterness over the very thing that tore us apart.

It may seem easy for me to write this. Trust that it is not. For reasons that go beyond the very nature of exploring emotional history in my writing, but more than this because a key player in how we ended is no longer here to speak for herself, and perhaps I do her legacy – her memory – a great disservice by telling her side of the story, but only as I remember it? I am torn, and always have been, because it is my story, after all – it is the love I lost, not just his, but hers – but it is also a personal tragedy on her account. A deeply sad and hurtful part of who she became, and to those who knew her apart from the end years of her life, it might seem I wish to paint her the villain, focus all my love on him and all my anger on her, and thus validate this great love story – and the blame doesn’t fall on either of us, it falls on her.

To be clear, I do not wish to do this, and if I have ever made it seem like I do not blame him for his part in this, I was wrong to excuse him.

However, again it is my story, and how I do remember it is extremely personal – and I can assure anyone with any accusation against this, how I tell it, that it would be better to take my word for it and let me claim my history than it would be to try and tell me I am wrong. After all, there were three people involved. One, a tragic loss, the other is silent and has been a stranger to me for years, and the third – well, I think you know how she is doing…

Tim and I cannot know for certain that if things had not happened the way they did we would still be together. We cannot know that, just like with any part of our history – things happened the way they did and that becomes what you know and all else become dreams or mere speculation… None the less, I have always believed that he and I would have made our way in this life together. I would venture a guess that he feels that way as well.

I base this speculation on what happened after everything changed. He would not have told me about it had he not realized that keeping it a secret would damage us, and I would never know what went wrong. It would have eaten him alive, and the way that he loved me – we didn’t keep secrets from each other, and he knew more about me than anyone else in the world – there was no way he could keep that inside. Telling me was the obvious thing and unfortunately for me, the most painful thing – but having gone through a lot of life since that time, and having experienced keeping my own secrets from people I loved, I have great respect that he did, in fact, tell me. First chance he got.

I had spent two years building a life with this man. During that time the house we lived in was bought – we planted flowers and watched the roots of our labor and love turn it into our quant little fixer-upper home. During that time, his mother and he encouraged me to finish high school, so I did that and then went on to take credits at Clark, I got my first real job working at a mortgage company, and I learned what it meant to be loved. Truly… loved. We bickered about religion and politics and sometimes in my longing for us to be as connected in these issues as we were in everything else, I would cry and beg him to change (a classic young-love mistake) but then all I had to do was look at him and none of that mattered as much compared to how I loved him anyway. He taught me how to trust myself, and that I could trust him with my heart, and I fell into it entirely sure. So was he the night he asked me to marry him.

I became a version of myself that I could love. Loving him, trusting him, it made me stronger. It gave me a purpose I could appreciate. It challenged me and pushed me to want more for my life, because I would do whatever it took to stay beside him. He loved me for who I was, even when I was broken, and nobody in my life at that time was giving me anything even close to that. He let me see the parts of him that were difficult, and flawed, and we both held onto each other so tightly in our mutual openness and adoration for one another.

It was to be, then, obvious to anyone paying any attention at all, that what transpired to break us apart would devastate me. Indeed, it was worse than that.

Our life together, his and mine, was not by any means perfect. We were known for the beer in our fridge and the late-night music in the garage which often was played by a man, his guitar, and six or seven cold ones. I admit I loved his cigarette smoke lips and the lingering scent of beer on his breathe. It was a part of the man I fell in love with. He could pull out Dylan lyrics from memory in one breathe and ponder the meaning of life in another, while smoking as he strummed an acoustic on the porch. We were not pure, nor faultless, nor perfect by any means – and it was precisely this avenue of our life together that aided him to make this most dire mistake.

… I paused for quite a while, sort of just lingering there – remembering. I don’t intentionally remember him, or that time, too often. When I do it always hurts. I realize as I write this that I bump dangerously against seeming to long for him presently while maintaining that it is only history of which I speak; one might confuse the two. Just something I thought worth mentioning as I continue.

My world, in an instant, was broken. Soon to follow the obvious trauma of thinking I lost the man I loved came the actual loss of my mother, and so it came to pass that every single thing I loved, needed, and wanted was… gone.

When she died, he was the one I wanted to run to. I needed my best friend. I needed to cry, and scream, and completely shatter on the ground in his arms, but I couldn’t. I was told not to go to him. I was told I could not heal there, because there was where the pain began.

After our life completely fell apart, and I was no longer living with him in our little house on our little street, but instead a few miles away, I remember every single day was a fight not to run back there. This was made especially difficult by his repeated attempts to get to me by whatever means necessary. He showed up but I didn’t know how to go back – not when everyone I knew told me, in no uncertain terms, that you don’t go back after this happens. That it means – it proves – we were not meant to be. So instead of listen to my heart, which craved him entirely even though that would mean it would hurt and we would need to heal, I listened to the world. I listened to everyone whom had supposedly suddenly had my best interest at heart. The same people whom were not there before I met him when I was lost, and completely drowning in the empty shell of the person I’d become. The same people who never saw how much we loved each other, but only latched on to the various times I’d vent about him during a spat and use that version of our story to make me believe we weren’t supposed to be together anyway.

The only person who knew me deeply. The only one who made a huge mistake and then immediately saw it for what it was and risked everything to tell me. The only one who, at the very grand expense of losing me forever, broke himself apart just to be honest the very moment after he made that mistake… The only one who then spent nearly two years trying to make me see that I made the biggest mistake of all by walking away – by listening to everyone else – was Tim. I abandoned him because everyone told me that’s what you do. That I couldn’t have moved past it. I couldn’t have forgiven him no matter how badly I may have wanted to. People were well-meaning, I like to believe that, but sometimes I realize the mistake was that I shared with anyone what had happened… Alas, that’s one of those senseless things I needn’t even explore further.

I moved away because I couldn’t take it anymore. The devastating moment I learned that my mother had died – that very night – I wanted one person. The one person I could not have… Not when it didn’t matter for anyone else anymore what she put me through before she died – all that mattered then was that, she was gone. That trumped all my personal pain, a pain not even one of them can even understand let alone the fact that they didn’t have to endure it. I felt like I lost the ability to go back because the fact that I still loved him just wasn’t enough for them – how could it be enough after what happened? – and so I made it not enough for me. Somehow, I thought that if I went back, it would hurt them, and I valued their opinion more so than I valued my own healing.

When people hear this part of my history – even paid professional counselors (and believe me, I’ve seen many) I am always left feeling as though nobody really understands it. How can I talk about loving him so much, so deeply, and then talk about what happened, and then even mention that I still loved him after that? As if they expect the very act of betrayal itself should erase all the love we shared. I almost, at times, feel as though I may just be a fool, and maybe they are right…

But then I remember that I was the one. I was there the night I met this handsome man with piercing blue eyes and a brilliant smile. I was there when I felt my walls crumbling down and my heart opening to his tender touch against my cheek. I was there when someone, for the first time in my life outside of my family, accepted and loved me for who I was. I was there when he walked into the house after working each night and saw him rush to me, renewed by my embrace. I was there when we dug our fingers in the soil and planted seeds that bloomed as we lay side-by-side under the summer sun. I was there on the cold, rainy winter nights when we moved the mattress to the living room in front of the stove to watch the fire burn as we rested in each other’s arms. I was there to listen as he serenaded me with classic rock tunes on the guitar, and as he danced like Joe Cocker in the garage just to make me laugh. I was there when I bared my soul to him, and his to me, and we dreamed and laughed and talked about our future together…

I was there, laying my head against his chest, when his breathe was shallow and I could tell something was very wrong. I was there when he revealed that something had gone terribly wrong and he wasn’t sure how it happened but told me every detail a thousand times just to try and help me understand it. I was there to wipe his tears away the day I packed my car up and was ready to leave, while he sat on our porch crying, begging me not to go. I was there when he told me he was so sorry, and he would love me forever… even as I walked away.

I am not sure anyone could understand it. Not unless you walked in our shoes. Not unless you felt what we felt… Not unless you lost… what we lost. I know it’s the same for all loss – I can’t expect to understand how my brothers and sister, or my dad, deal with or dealt with the loss of our mom, and I’d never be in their ear telling them, “it’s better this way” … But that’s what I heard when it came to me and him.

I’ve got another side to this entire part of my life that is entirely devoted to my mother, but I purposefully left that out of this because now is not the time. I’ve still got 5 days on this island completely alone, and I am certain in that time, I will write about her. I will cry about her. I must go back, stand beside her, and deal with everything that comes up. For now, it is about him.

Tim is a stranger to me now. Some time before Layla was born was when he last spoke freely to me. He had just met the person who is now his wife and she was soon to be pregnant with their son. From what I understand he’s lived in her country of Slovenia and moved back to Vancouver, though I am not aware of where he is now.

One of the greatest struggles I have faced since leaving Washington is knowing that I left him alone and did not return, and so the fault of this – our fate – rests solely upon me. I am okay with that because my choice to do so ultimately gave me three daughters and an amazing husband – a life I am grateful for.

Yet the healing that still needs to take place – it is apparent to me that even having a great life, a thousand miles apart from my home town – does not change the fact that I still hurt about Tim. It still hurts me that this happened to us, and I think I would be inauthentic if I pretended otherwise, though I am sure a great many people would rather I pretend because my honesty makes them uncomfortable.

I am not sure I’ll ever get used to the fact that I don’t know him anymore. That’s the hard part about knowing someone so well, and loving them so deeply – now, he is just supposed to be this person that I once knew, once loved. Yet, I know he is one of the most important parts of my history. He…

He gave me love, for the first time in my life. He opened his heart, mind, and soul to me, and let me see him intimately. He learned all the details of my face, and smiled at me with a sparkle in his eyes that made me feel safe and wanted – flaws and all. We taught each other that true love is worth fighting for, though I only learned that after it was too late.

I will never be 19 again. I will never know that version of myself, broken and wayward, God-less and love-less. I will never feel what it feels like to watch that person fall away as I learned myself through the eyes of another person. I cannot go back there – to any of it. I know that. I just wish, sometimes, that I could find some box to put him in that would contain all of this, so that I don’t have to see it unless I want to. I guess I haven’t mastered the art of forgetting like some would hope by now I would. Truth is, I may never fully understand this, and maybe that’s where I just let it go. Leave it at that. A classic, “it is what it is” situation?

I am so grateful that in my life now I have someone beside me whom accepts that I am still mending these broken pieces, and he lets me love him imperfectly. He doesn’t begrudge me that fact, but instead, holds me through it. He shows me I have the strength left to tackle this, and tells me that even if I never break through entirely, and I feel pain about this for the rest of my life, I am still worth loving. It is amazing that he is the first person – indeed the only one – whom has given me such a gift in all the years since Tim. In that way, I know it is real love, because long ago, I learned what that looked like.

I got to know great love. I got to lose great love. I guess, because of that, I should count myself among the lucky ones… I’ve had it twice.

Tim will probably never know these words exist, and I sometimes wonder how or if he still deals with those two years, and the end of us, like I do. I’ve tried to reach out to him but have never gotten anywhere with it, a fact of which is both understandable and disheartening. Sometimes, I question whether I am imagining things as they were not, but instead have built this beautiful world of sunshine and flowers and us walking together through a perfectly green pasture under a clear blue sky. Then, I laugh that off and remember…

“Hey, Christina, this is Tim”, Justin said, looking over at his dinner buddy. That moment. His face. That’s when my life began.

This Day

I have been contemplating whether or not I was going to write today; anxiety answered for me, much to my intense dismay…

I’ve been considering what is underneath this looming feeling of panic, and breathlessness, and given what day it is today, the acknowledgement and fault should go to my mother. The reason I don’t automatically admit my understanding of such a seemingly obvious cause is that today is the day my first child was born. A celebratory day. One of the most beautiful moments of my entire life.

Everyone tells me, easily, that her birth should vastly overshadow my mother’s death. That God gave me a gift today that, “takes a hard day and makes it beautiful”. I don’t think negatively about others when they say this to me, after all I have said those exact words myself to describe this day. . . The problem is, however, I am not sure it is true – for me. Not yet, perhaps … not ever – but I can still hope.

Honestly, I hate that I feel the way that I do. I hate that it has been eleven years already. I hate that she is gone, and I hate that I can remember it all too well.

Layla was born eleven days past her due date. My first child, that is normal… I remember my doctor telling me that if I didn’t have her by Monday, we would induce that day. I went home that Friday and it hit me, in the coming hours, that if I did not have this baby before Monday, she would be born on the day my mom passed away. I remember crying at this realization, thinking it was such a grand gesture from God to orchestrate such a thing – surely, it would not come to that, because for me it rarely does that pain triumphs beauty. That day was to always be my mother’s day – it was to always be the one day of the year I can openly grieve her death and nobody can pity me for it.

The weekend slowly passed and Sunday night I paced. I prayed. I cried. Then, at literally 12am, midnight, on January 19th, my water broke.

God makes His plans…

I remember laboring with her in that hospital room. I remember praying for the strength she had when she bore me and my siblings – drug free, believing in her body, even at the age of 16 when she had her first child. I remember the photograph I held in my hand of my mom in a hospital bed, in labor with my little brother. I remember the cross that sat on the bedside table, because I needed God with me because she was not.

My daughter’s birth was exceptional. The moment she layed in my arms, I felt a fire burn inside me that has yet to dim. Motherhood. A daughter. My baby girl…

This on the day my own mother breathed her last breathe, 3 years before.

Now it is eleven years since that night. 8 years since that afternoon when she was named Layla Samaya Roberta. . .

Roberta, my mother, must have nudged Him. I like to think she did…

Even so, I am a bit uneased by it, and I can’t help but to smile through my tears, gazing heavenward to chuckle with them both as I watch my 8-year-old baby girl grow.

The hardest part about this day for me is that I do feel guilty and shameful that I still grieve my mother. People say that it is such a blessing. Such a beautiful gift from God, my sweet Layla coming today. I feel like in light of that, I have to hold my breathe and smile along, and any hint of sadness has to be shoved deep inside me.

Really, it is quite difficult.

I prayed this morning, as I made pancakes for the girls, that I would find peace here. That I would honor what was, and be present with what is, and give this to God. After all, wasn’t He the one who arranged this? From her last breathe to my daughter’s first.

Just – why? I sigh now…

Perhaps it is just another thing I won’t understand until He tells me Himself when I look around me and once again see her face.

I miss her. I miss who she was to me as a child. I miss her laughter. Her boisterous presence when she was feeling happy and brought that into every room she entered. Her soft skin. Her fingernails with chipped nail polish and her hands covered in paint from the home improvement store. Her dinners of perfectly cooked rice and BBQ chicken with secret sauce. Her being my Mama – every deep, satisfying, and natural thing that represented. . . When she loved me… When she loved herself.

Eleven years, and I still remember this day like recalling every detail of a dream having just roused from sleep. It is all there, just some parts fade over time. I’d go back and change so much – but eleven years proves that desire is fruitless and futile; a waste of my emotional and mental space.

8 years, and I still remember that day like it was yesterday. Every detail is clear. I remember her button nose and wrinkly skin. I remember counting her toes and kissing her fingers. I remember breathing her in and feeling purpose flood my life. I remember feeling grateful that she was here, in my embrace, and in those following moments, a difficult day did become brighter than the sun. . .

But the brightness of her coming has dimmed and shadows of the past are all around me now.

I hope as she grows and realizes what this day is for me, personally, she does not resent me for this struggle. A hardship she won’t understand, and cannot, until I too die.

So, I have nothing left to say…

Happy Birthday, my sweet baby girl. I love you more than I can say today. Ask me tomorrow and I’ll give you 1012 words.

What Life Taught Me at Thirty

I have been wanting to write for a couple of nights in a row now, but the inspiration, and the right words, seemed to elude me. As the hours wind down on this productive, beautiful day, I feel that familiar pull towards the keyboard, and I am grateful.

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Tomorrow marks the 30th year since my birth. At 1:04am, April 23rd, my mother laid helpless on an exam table as the doctors told her not to push. Unable to control it, she did what they instructed against, and soon the Obstetrician was bleakly staring at two tiny feet. A one-pound, eleven-ounce 26-gestational-weeks old, and far too little to survive – or so they thought. My parents waited anxiously, praying for a miracle, as their newborn preemie lay on an operating table at 48-hours old; heart surgery the only option to get me stable as the hole in my heart failed to close on its own.

Three months later, I got to go home. After numerous tests, scares of apnea (where a NICU nurse would run in and gently push on my chest to get me breathing again), and several procedures to ensure my health, I finally got to call my mother’s arms home… I finally got to be held in my father’s hands – my head the size of a tennis ball at the tips of his outstretched fingers, and my feet dangling at the base of his wrist. A miracle, they said, of that little premature fighter. My mom said, when she was stuck in the hospital on bed-rest, that she knew – if I was to be a girl – my name would be Christina Marie. She swore to me, her whole life, that an angel told her to call me this – but I never knew if she was serious, though she seemed to believe this was true.

Well, that bald, translucent-skinned monkey-baby is now turning 30.

You know, so many people talk about growing older, and how it just seems to keep getting better. I sincerely hope this is the case, because my life up until the past two years has been an interesting, difficult journey. The ups were intoxicating, and the downs suffocated my soul on numerous dark occasions. However lost I was, I eventually got found. However happy I was, eventually, some circumstance came along, waving its wicked little temptations or frustrations, and I was knocked back down again. The myriad of lessons I have learned – heartache, happiness, sadness, grief, and how to find strength again – well, I believe I am a better woman because of these moments.

For a long time, I guess really the past decade, I have been finding myself in bits and pieces of the places and names now left behind. I sought out love and laughter, then tasted the bittersweet ending of yet another relationship. I wanted peace, but so many times I found myself wallowing in the tumultuous nature of chaos all around me. Along the way, however, I know my heart was tested for a reason. One very big reason.

So that I would appreciate the day, for it was sure to come, when I could simply marvel at the journey itself, and be truly grateful for what kind of person I am now. I do not say these things to claim accolades, or to portray myself as someone whom knows anything anyone else does not know. Merely, I mean to adorn my testimony with failure and triumph, time and again, so that the one who deserves the praise is seen in my eyes. God, He is the one I thank now…

Because life throws us a grand master plan, and sometimes we determine what roads we travel, other times we allow fate to take refuge in our future, allowing the chips fall where they may. I can sit back and see each scenario, and I know, looking at myself then, that there were pivotal moments of choice, and the outcome, whether I made it happen or allowed it, has brought me to a great place.

A place where I can smile. A place where I no longer feel such a need to question my past, or to name all the reasons it failed or succeeded, but to watch it, observe it, and thank it – that is it – time cannot be unwritten once it fades, and there is nothing a wise heart would do then but to acknowledge and move on.

My mom always loved to tell my birth story. It was one thing she did on my birthday each year, and I am sure it is not hard to understand why. We endured that together, that birth. And although I was not cognizant of my experience, I am the only living person whose soul moved through her body in that moment; I was the feet that emerged as she struggled, uncertain and afraid, and I was the tiny baby she held on her hip for the next two years after that, surely just grateful to have her daughter alive and well.

Tonight, I missed hearing that story. I missed hearing about that moment she knew that I was going to survive. I miss hearing her say, smiling, “you were the smallest baby in the NICU at the time, and you went home healthier and faster than babies who were not even born as sick as you!” She knew, from the onset, that she had a fighter on her hands, and I like to think she always admired that about me, and thanked God for my tenacity.

My birthday has been sort-of bittersweet each year since the woman whom delivered me died. Not to have a pity party or anything, but it still does sting that she is gone, and though it has already been eight years, I miss her even now, and some part of me wishes – against all odds – that I’d have one more birthday with my mother.

I accept the direction I traveled before now. Lord knows it was intense and beautiful, and I could have avoided some mistakes and worked harder to appreciate other’s and my own accomplishments along the way. The biggest thing I have learned in this time is to appreciate the moments – the small ones – as I grow another year older, may I never lose that insight that even the small things count.

My children will someday be 30, God willing, and I hope I am there with love in my heart, and birth stories to share, as they too find it easier to understand themselves, and navigate this world with greater intention, earnest effort, and pronounced appreciation.

We grow. That is life. We change. That is time. We struggle. That is sin. We triumph… That is God.

I see it so clearly.

May the next ten years be the best I have ever known. That is what I am working towards now. But I wanted to take one last moment and appreciate where my twenties took me. From Timothy Lee and his sparkling blue eyes. To the love we shared that was first love at its finest, to the last moment he whispered he loved me before I boarded a plane… To George, San Diego, and the stop lights where we played over our favorite song each time the light turned red – to ice-cream cones in his face, and the moment we found out our baby would be a girl – to her birth, and finally, our separation when we admitted it was over… To AJ and all the chaos that comes from two perfectly UN-matched people – he taught me how to walk away from something that is not right, and how to smile at the misfortune of our love, though at least it brought us a healthy, beautiful baby girl… To the moment, in an airport baggage claim that I saw a tattoo on a long-haired hippy and the introduction Cathy gave us when I learned his name is John – to the home we share and the way he makes me push to be a better mother, friend, and partner…

I have known a lot of love in the past ten years, and all but one I simply wish to thank and then set free in my heart…

Because my heart knows a deeper love now, and I see it when I look at the two beautiful daughters that God has given to me. To Layla, born on a special day – my first baby… My sweet blue-eyed Lebanese Princess. To Jemma, my brown-eyed wildcat…

They are the most incredible gifts I can imagine. They test me, push me, and make me so mad I could literally go temporarily mental. But they love me, and allow me to love them, and we endure to make each other grow, and see the world for what it is…

And John… He has endured with me through my failures, and he knows my flaws. He knows what makes me angry even though it should not get anyone THAT upset. He knows that I like to control the radio and that I am not partial to silence unless I am writing. He knows that I love Jesus and that my mistakes and accomplishments were gifts from God to help me learn and grow. He knows that I can’t really eat cheese unless it is Tillamook medium cheddar because all the other cheeses make me gag. He knows that I would sleep all day if I could, but that I want cuddle time – especially when he should be working. He knows that I love him, and that I thank him for all he does for my children, and for me…

My life has been amazing. Truly, it has. It would be wrong to say I would NOT change a few things, because for sure there are moments I would redo or erase entirely… But I accept them all, even the hard, deep wounds; God has a plan, and it all works together to make something beautiful.

I looked in the mirror today and just studied my face. Briefly, I felt a twinge of pain at the youth that is leaving me – even in some minor fashion – but then I marveled at how I have become something better, and more than I ever thought I would be.

Learning French. Rock climbing. Raising two beautiful children. Tolerating a dog in my house. Writing. Finishing my Bachelors degree.

30 will be great, of this I am as sure as a believer in fate and choice can be. I hope, for the next ten years, they interchange in the best possible manner – that God guides me, that I listen, and that I choose – when I need to – the best thing. I will know the best thing, now, because I’ve lived enough life to realize what matters. Love. Acceptance. Appreciation. And the fight. The fight to never stop trying to be greater than you think you are. Life, man, 30-years of it will teach you that.

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The Dreamer and the Observer

The battle softly lingers behind my eyes but you would not have known it had you gazed deep within for the woman wears a fair façade. Named, it would be a curt objection to conventionality that yearns to overcome a desire to have structure, stability, and the four walls that come with building a life of normalcy. For years, I have contemplated and conjured up reasons why I want the latter, but the former creeps in even in the midst of a picturesque scene – a mother now, a wife before and again, and a studious performer of the home economic arts. It appears from the outset that I have it together and the convention of marriage – motherhood… That these things suit me well, at least, on an easy day.

What if I were honest for a moment. What if the light behind my eyes gave way to the darkness of this struggle? What if you had my heart for a moment? How would you balance the will to stay with the tendency to roam, and which road would you trek yourself?

I have yet found the strength to examine this honestly, but for right now, and I am both enthralled and dangerously entangled by the notion that I could, would have to, choose. Could a woman not find peace in the depth of her greatest most gripping point of personality contention? What inside me causes me to feel restless?

For some it would be said that I am not in a right relationship with God. Simple, for some, to say this, but I know my God loves me even as I roam. Psalm 145:18 – “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” John 15:5-7 – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”

I adore calling on God, in times of celebration and in times of great sorrow and trial. I believe, even as I question and wander through these darkened avenues of my life that God will not abandon me and I am not less because I wander. . .

For others, it is merely a selfishness inside of me – perhaps even a dysfunction – that I would struggle this way and ever contemplate NOT staying (in the conventional life). That I simply need to “grow up” and make a commitment. That commitments are a compromise much of the time, and we give up and sacrifice parts of ourselves in order to commune with and dwell in intimate relationships with others.

I have weighed, you see, every possible argument one might give in support or opposition to either part of my plight – more than I have mentioned here, I understand even the psychological nature, and perhaps even the genetics, of my tendencies. Even the environment in which I was brought up contributes to what I concede is normal and what is not.

What conclusion I start with, yes what a paradox I know, is that I believe this struggle is intensely personal, and it encompasses everything about me – going far beyond, far deeper, than some menial shallow observation and offhand remark about my thoughts, feelings, and desires. My faith is strong and steadfast, and my loyalty is fierce and easily defended to anyone; I start here, honestly examining this, knowing I may never understand this part of myself, and that it may very well come down to a choice I will either loathe or adore – it may depend entirely on my perspective and this alone. And I may not get there until I am nearing my last breathe…

The part I wrestle with most is trying to discern whether to just make peace with my tendency to roam or to fight it off completely; have the life I was told since childhood I am supposed to have. Or, instead, I can travel to the opposite end of the spectrum and leave everything I know and become that part of myself I am in my heart – the wanderer. The uncaged songbird.

I am troubled. Deeply. Because I am so completely both, yet as though ripped at the seams where once sewn, I cannot be. Can I?

There is a dream inside my head carried with me and made stronger by challenges. For every moment I stumbled, this dream grew more filled with promise. For each moment I rested, I dwelled within the framework of my mind in a place where I could truly be free.

I am not talking about merely free from my duties as a wife. As a mother. As the person whom maintains the home, the bills, the everyday mire of an average American life. I am not meaning that I simply wish to abandon all of this – not even, for a moment do I mean this, that I resent it or wish I never had ventured here. To be clear, these things, as I said, are also deeply part of who I am.

What I mean when I say roam – what I dream about in the warmth of my heart – is the artist’s fairway down aisles of forgotten dreams. The painter as she strokes across a canvas to pour out, at last, every vision of love she’s ever conjured in her quiet heart. The wild spirit of a visionary, the intangible way she believes the world and each blade of grass and each broken soul is an integral part of interwoven fabric of life. I am the poet, the architect, the dancer, the wanderer…

And yet, I have remained steadfast in the traditional. The conventional.

Because I had only tasted this part of my soul once before, and I was younger then, full of promise and youth and naïve passion; a hunger for a man’s love loomed deep, and with him I danced free barefoot under the autumn night sky. Since that night dawned and found me yet again alone and soon in the arms of another suitor, I vacated the purpose I found once, who I was once, because I was told, and I believed, that life was not for me.

When I see that part of me again, now almost 30 with two children of my own, I wonder why I listened. Again, it is not resentment, but rather a quiet, honest look at the deepest parts of myself I wish, someday, to honor.

If I could pull apart the layers of all we are supposed to do, and I could simply live outside the realm of expectation and conventionality, I would linger here peacefully the rest of my days.

Alas, I am tasked with balancing. With finding meaning in the normalcy while yet my heart longs to fly.

Purpose is in the work at hand; great, endearing purpose. The kind that sends my heart aloft with meaning – in the eyes of my lover or my children… In the faces of those whose names I do not know that I smile to as they pass me wordless and meandering. I see purpose in even the mundane… Because my heart is an observer, and I love the littlest parts of life, because I think they are worth mention and gratitude.

Propose, my heart, that we settle this battle with a truce. Perhaps even temporarily, but enough so that I acknowledge who I am, and make peace with that for now. The unfolding of self is as the stars dwell in the heavens. The yielding to a desire to have all the answers…

A dreamer I have always been. And yet, convention found me waiting, wrecked and longing, and I grasped it headlong into the wind.

Now. Dreamer and observer, dwell within one another’s company until this woman’s eyes no more shine with hidden darkness but again shine only as brightly as the fresh morning dawn.

If I can manage this. If I can do that. Wherever my heart finds home, whether atop the rolling hills of unnamed lands or in the quiet embrace of my sleeping babes, God give me peace. God, give me purpose. God, deliver me from restlessness but allow me to be beautifully, wonderfully made – knowing I will have the answers, and You will be beside me, in Your time. Grant me serenity as I wait. Grant me wisdom as I wait. . . These days will be easier as I let the control go and trust, as I grow and believe in the grandeur of the journey, that it will all be exactly as it is supposed to be. No matter where I roam or where I remain.

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