40

Dear 39,

Thank you.

Its’ been a pleasure.

On this day a year ago all I wanted was to peer around the bend, just a snippet of what lie ahead.

No looking glass that night or the nights after, more uncertainty unfolding one day after the next.

But, at some point, living with the uncertainty became ok.

I stopped orchestrating.

I started listening.

And now 40 is not a single bit like I thought it would be.

I’m not who I thought I would be.

I don’t have to be finished.

I don’t have skip ahead to know the end to this chapter.

I can believe.

I can trust.

I can look back now to see that all along this 39th year was designed to lead me here.

In his time, in his way, answered prayers.

Thank you for all that you were.

If you don’t mind, could you put in a good word for me with 40? You’ve built a great foundation for her to work with.

Love,

H

 

 

Dream

So you’ve walked 1200 days alone before he enters.

One would think it would wreak havoc on a life.

Decisions now made with input of another.

Days that dance by, one fuller then the next.

Yet, somehow, it all just works,

our stories blending.

Those three girls and their daddy, my three girls and that dog, the group of us, all eight meandering through life together.

Dear Lord help us to continue to love each other as we should.

This is the way this life’s meant to be lived.

The way that little girl always dreamed it would be.

 

 

 

 

Authentic

We live our lives with the applause meter on.

The channels of social media feed the human desire for acclaim.

But, to live an authentic life, one in which we force ourselves to acknowledge the pieces that are less than show ready, that’s a challenge.

I was tired.

Really, really tired.

I needed coffee or a nap or both.

I snapped.

Little girls scurried.

Please Lord, next time prompt me to warn them when these things are brewing.

This is the piece of me I’m learning to love.

No one else to blame, just a recovering perfectionist who cannot rest before it’s all complete.

The woman who simply can’t manage when something is left undone.

Apologies were whispered, when really they should have been exclaimed.

Little girls tucked away for the night will soon forget the mistakes made.

The best of me sometimes comes from the worst of me.

Tomorrow we’ll go at it again.

 

 

 

Chicago

When the school year ends the girls and I pack our bags and head out.

The kick off to summer break always begins with a trip.

This year we headed to Chicago for three nights with beautiful friends who have become family.

We love them with all our hearts (so does our Anja girl).

It was Anja’s first road trip as a part of this tribe,

and each night she was worn out from the cuddles.

We’re so grateful for these people who love us when they aren’t required to;

who open their home and their hearts, and

whose wisdom and counsel is always shared with our best interest in mind.

If there is one example my girls remember from their years with me, I hope it is of friendship.

Chose wisely my girls.

When you find the women who will willingly go all in,

hold on tight.

There is nothing better than a life lived with others whose only desire is to see you soar.

 

 

 

 

Pride

Sometimes I think I don’t tell her enough how proud I am of her.

This girl with her smile as open as her heart.

The one who works hard,

keeps her promises,

and loves without condition.

The two of us, we have learned together.

A million and one mothering mistakes I’m sure I’ve made.

And now as she stands 5’9 and full of forgiveness for all of my failings, I am supremely proud of the young women she has become.

 

Love

It began with our Priest.

His words to Matt a summer ago.

The gentle nudging that Matt should pursue that women across the aisle. The one at daily mass, alone or with her girls. His urging that both Matt and I were on the same journey.

But as often times happens we each sought others, because, after all, what does your Priest know about love :)?

But that wise Priest prayed and his intentions soon joined with others who noticed God’s hand in the story. Hundreds of days lived as we continued to move separately through this life.

That is until one day, when the experiences were had, the moments lived apart, we were finally ready to come together.

Answered prayers.

So it turns out our Priest, our friends and our little girls, both Matt’s and mine, knew a whole lot more about love then what we imagined.

They knew that love was built on a foundation of faith.

They knew that shared goals, the desire for growth, were an essential.

And they knew that our Holy Spirit works in the most wondrous ways.

Yesterday, as I looked down the table at the gaggle of six girls enjoying their post church Mexican buffet and being entertained by the Priest who prayed for it all to happen, my heart danced.

This love story begins.

 

 

 

 

The Husbands

They are an unexpected bonus.

Their wives, on the other hand, were a given.

I knew the minute we met, a thousand years ago as college freshman, that our friendship was forever. I don’t believe, at the time, I thought about how the men they would marry would participate in our story as well.

And now, fresh off a fortieth birthday celebration weekend in Florida with these ladies, I find myself reflecting on the unexpected gifts of our friendship- those men who love them.

I looked back through my library to find their photos. Not at all surprisingly there weren’t many pictures. Not because they aren’t present at our gatherings; but rather, because they are often the ones behind the camera, off wrangling toddlers or fixing worms to hooks on fishing poles.

These men are a constant presence.

The girls refer to them as their uncles.

Among the first to hold them upon their births;

participants in birthday parties, thanksgiving dinners, spring break adventures and the yearly Labor Day weekend reunion.

They’ve rough housed, fixed bike tires and encouraged silly behavior that their Momma would have never allowed.

The gifts extend beyond their influence on my girls.

I’ve sought their counsel on topics ranging from financial planning to the purchasing of new computers.

They’ve served as my cheerleaders, my running partners and my changer of light bulbs.

Most importantly they’ve encouraged and nurtured the friendship I share with their wives, never questioning my place in the lexicon of their family.

Thanks boys for loving your wives the way you do,

for being the incredible dads you are and

for being my friend.

I’m glad I’m on this journey with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Declaration

“This,” said Reepicheep “is where I go on alone.”

-C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The envelope arrived thirty-six months after the civil courts had declared our marriage over.

The contents when read told me of another type of ending.

Fingers hover over the keypad now as I hesitate to type the words.

So much of this life I share, yet certain pieces find comfort, alone, in the quiet confines of the heart.

The journey that brought me the letter from the Catholic Diocese, didn’t go unsupported.

A small team of prayer warriors leant their words to the examination of how my love story began. They relived times long since forgotten.

I am forever grateful for their contributions. Their adjectives painted a picture of a young women I needed to recall.

Gratitude extends as well to the man whose life I shared, as he willingly participated, one more time, in our ending.

Declaration of Nullity.

It doesn’t mean the union never existed.

It doesn’t mean those girls weren’t born of love.

What was missing there can now be found in his time, not mine.

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Twenty years removed from the start of the story, a final gift,  forgiveness.

And in this we find our joy.

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/annulment/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love

“I said I love you Momma and now he’s gone”, the words choked out between the sobs.

“I shouldn’t have loved him if it wasn’t going to be forever”, the ache in her heart a reflection of the joy his presence brought.

“Baby girl but isn’t that how Jesus taught us?” My words offered in the moment through God’s grace.

“We are to love without expectation”, I reminded her and I.

“You felt it and you gave it freely. Don’t ever feel badly about giving your love”.

“You are my brave girl”.

 

 

Talent Show

She caught me as I walked in the door.

Waving the green paper in her hand, telling me she was going to do the school talent show. All she needed was my signature.

What if she froze on stage?

What if kids laughed?

What if she looked at the others; the gymnast flipping, the ballerina leaping and the boy and his violin concerto, and somehow she felt less then?

How could I place her in the path of those possibilities?

Wasn’t my job to protect? Yet there she stood asking me to be a willing accomplice.

I was worn down in the moment. The paper signed, off she went.

For weeks she practiced with her friend and talked excitedly about the show.

Even after the preparation, I worried.

The evening arrived.

Glowing faces, happy smiles as parents and grandparents lined the aisles.

I sat glued to the hard, metal, folding chair wishing the night away, placing my own elementary school fears squarely on the shoulders of my ten year old.

Fears of rejection and failure from a recovering perfectionist, no wonder the air felt heavy.

But, as it always happens, she took the chance to teach me.

She sang.

Her face flushed with excitement, voice beginning softly then growing in confidence. The two friends side by side supporting one another.

Two minutes gone in the blink of an eye and it was over.

The exhale was for me alone. She had not needed it.

My story was not hers.

She wrote her own that night.