She stood in the kitchen enjoying the sounds of her children chattering nearby, engrossed in the task at hand, her mind was still but present. The woods outside her window were dense but the slightest clearing leading to the spring in the distance gave way to just enough space for her to witness her favorite part of the day, dusk. It lingered only for a few minutes but that was enough. The sun slowly dipped below the horizon and suddenly it felt like everything on earth was painted in its truest color, free from the direct bright light of the sun but not yet darkened by the night sky full of artificial lights. It was as real as anything could be and somehow it felt brighter than the actual day.
It happened so fast, in a flash, everything changed. All that she knew was about to be questioned. The smell in the room changed, without a thought she moved instinctively as if this had all happened before. Perhaps it was a dream. After a brief pause that felt like a lifetime she figured nothing was worth saving except the lives of those she loved so they ran. As her home crumbled before her and panic ensued all around all she could think of was that there was nothing left to do at this very moment but watch as the flames engulfed everything she had ever possessed. A strange serenity took over, for the first time in a long time she was not in control of anything but her reaction.
No more calculating, planning, thinking. It had been decided for her; it was time to move on.
For as long as I can remember, I've had a reoccurring dream where I stood in my kitchen as my two young girls played outside in the woods. It seems to be late 1600s. In the dream, I know it to be only my daughters and I who live in this little cottage in the woods. Fire torches make their way to our home as I stand by the window and immediately realize what lies ahead. Without hesitation, I yell to the girls to run. It is a strange dream but it always feels so real, something more like a memory than a dream. I always wake before anything else can happen, the last scene in my mind's eye is that of my girls' petticoats bellowing behind them as they ran away from me, the house, the danger, hand in hand and I turn to see the angry crowd making its way towards me.
It is difficult to explain how this dream can feel so connected to the real tragedy we faced last August as our own home was engulfed in flames. The only obvious similarity being fire and the fact that I have two girls whom I directed to run during both events. I believe in messages, tips or clues if you will, that help guide us through this life and it's mysteries, trials and tribulations. Perhaps this dream was just that, something that played in my head so many nights over the years, preparing me for the split second when I realized in real life that nothing else could matter.
Sometimes everything has to end, fall apart and cease to be for a true beginning to begin. This is the lesson I've learned this year. You move on.
When I was 19yrs old I got pregnant, out of wedlock, in the middle of my college career, still living with my parents and working a minimum wage part-time job. Luckily, it was with someone whom I considered a friend. Perhaps we didn't love each other the way one should when entering a life-long commitment but there was love, nonetheless.
With two kids by the young age of 21, let’s just say creativity was key in getting things accomplished. We moved into a side of my parents' house, shared one car and worked minimum wage jobs while attending as many college courses as we could squeeze into the little time we had before having to juggle an infant in the mix. It was a rushed balancing act.
Due to health insurance and coverage issues, we weren't able to legally get married but we did celebrate our commitment in the eyes of God and our family and friends, although, unfortunately, not in our church (so much for separation of church and state). A small wedding in my grandmother's living room as our friends cried for fear of their own futures and family hoped for the best. It was a weird day. I knew moments before I walked down the aisle that I wasn't ready but, alas, such is life.
My husband (at the time) and I became comrades, we were partnered in a battle against stigmas, statistics, time and clichés. We worked well together as we set goals and crushed them at lightning speed. Only 6 months after having our second (unplanned) daughter, we were officially homeowners. In 3.5yrs we had successfully surmounted obstacles most teenagers don’t even bother to worry about. I was almost done with my bachelors which, I completed through independent study, CLEPs, and bulking 5 courses in two days per week to spend as much time at home with my girls as possible. Anyone that knows either Tony (my ex) or me knows that we both excel when faced with a challenge. It was us against the odds and we had big dreams so we maintained a united front. It was exhilarating, new, something few had been able to do in such little time; we were partners of a different kind like officers or soldiers. We had missions and much to prove.
There comes a time in your life when the struggle lightens its grip, time slows down and you have no choice but to reflect. It’s a dangerous time, a crossroads of sorts, perhaps perceived by most as a midlife crisis. I had my “midlife” crisis at 26. Young in numbers but by that age I had lived the life of an average thirty something year old (and in today’s society that of a late 30/young 40yr old). I had accomplished my goals of earning my bachelors, establishing a career with benefits and retirement, owned my own home with two brand new cars, had two kids in private school and was in good physical shape. Only it wasn’t enough. In fact, it wasn’t anything that I really wanted.
Multi-tasking over-thinker that is, as you can imagine, often running late.