I think Confucius had it right: "We must study the past to create the future." When my husband abruptly left after 20 + years, I was angry and mad at the world! My first reaction was to take down every picture, toss his favorites, and destroy the memories. A frame hung in the living room which bore a current family picture. That day, I stood and stared. It was recent. It was beautiful. I could remember the day it was taken, the breeze, the laughter as one child wanted the dog in a photo, the hair fixing, the smell of freshly shampooed hair and the "normal." I gently lifted the frame down and began to take out the picture. As I removed the nails from the back of the frame, I could see flecks of the many different colors of paint that the frame had been, over the years. That frame has stood the test of time. That frame had a history. It started out light blue, then mauve (remember that?), forest green, cream, and then, the tried and true, brick red. I then, lifted off the back and removed the piece of wood that held the picture tight in place. A myriad of large family photos fell to ground. Some with one child, then two, three and four. Some in the fall leaves, some in a studio and some, on the bright green grass of summer. I sat on the floor and studied each of them. Brokenhearted, the tears turned to sobs. What had happened to my family? My forever after? My normal? Soon, the tears went from sad to fear as I was overcome with the unknown. I pleaded to my higher power for comfort. I was calmed with the thought that my past truly was history. My future was definitely a mystery, but the present, was a gift. And, what would I do with this gift of the present. That family frame had been painted and repainted for every home and every season. And, the pictures inside each told a story. A story of a family growing together......then, falling apart.
How did this happen??? I just couldn't get this question out of my heart and mind. What did I do to provoke such a change in him? I was crushed, then I remembered the game and the girl in center field. I needed to be prepared for whatever life hit my way. And, after this, I realized sometimes life hits a hard line drive and we are unprepared. So, the first thing I did was to begin to prepare. Not that I wanted to remarry any time soon, but I made of list of things I could have done better in my marriage, that I would like to implement, if I were given the chance to be a wife again. This list helped me realize that there is always room to improve, that I was not perfect either, and to not be afraid to change my position and that history, those pictures I wanted to throw away, could actually be the means of me becoming better not bitter, if I ever got to play that same position. And, that letting go of who I was, could enable me to become someone even better, stronger and more secure in my position, because of history. So, rather than throw away the photos and the destroy the frame therapeutically, here's what I did. I invited my daughter's friend to come take some new pictures of my new family, my new normal. Another friend of mine made a beautiful new, black frame, out of old barn wood, for my new family picture. I also had the photographer friend take a picture of just the kids. Then, I put my history to work. I took the glass from the old frame and put it in the new frame, with all of the old pictures still in the back of it, history behind the present. Those old pictures of history actually seem to steady the new picture in just the right place. And, I hung my new normal on the wall.
Now, I needed to learn how to run backwards, with my eye always on the ball, my family, making progress towards the future, but looking back towards my much needed history, while constantly reaching UP, to not miss the ball. Struggles shape, trials trip and tame, leaving us never the same.........but sometimes a little better. Running backwards is hard. Especially while you are trying to focus on not tripping over the next challenge, while still looking back to learn from the past, and stepping into the future, with faith as my guide and God as my coach. I would surely win, with, 4 trusty teammates and bleachers full of family and friends cheering, yelling, "You got this girl!" "Be a hitter!" "Stay in the box!" "Don't be afraid of the ball!" "You're a winner!" I needed those fans, and still do. Going from being a Kool-Aid - Scrapbookin'- PTA Mom to a full-time student with multiple part-time jobs and responsibilities is the hardest thing ever. Especially over night. But, I can honestly say, letting go of who I was has allowed me to become who I am today.
Today, rather than cry and give up, I want to win! I play many positions now, Mom, StepMom, Grandma, student, daughter, sister, friend and neighbor. And, I even got a second chance to play my favorite position ---- being wife. Everyday, I reflect on that list I made on the floor full of history. I have rebuilt my life, and my family, because of my history, not in spite of it. Because of what I have learned with the first out, I am bound and determined to stay in the game. I still wear my old wedding on my right hand, with word engraved, "REMEMBER." It reminds me to always be prepared for anything life may hit my way. It keeps me steady on my feet, with past as my strength not my weakness, as I run backwards, reaching up to my higher power, ready for the catch. And, it reminds me that though some days, the adversary wants me to feel I lost the game, it reminds me that I want to win. History is imperative so that we don't make the same mistakes over and over again. So I learned, not to throw it away, not to destroy my past in anger, in spite or a desire to get even.