Lessons learned…


So… don’t know about all of you but every year it seems like Life or Karma or some such nonsense has some big key lesson it wants to teach me.  And each year, just like the Chinese zodiac, there’s a theme.  And of course I know at this point that you’re thinking “seriously… who notices this type of thing?”  Well, other than me that is.  But yeah, I do.  I have.  And it’s really become a thing I watch for every year.  And typically it’s something I don’t even catch onto as it’s happening, something that I may or may not even realize is big, until I look back over the year and see that this one thing that happened during the year ended up being The Thing.  The lesson.  The overarching thread that moved my life in some new direction or taught me some lesson that I needed to learn.

My lesson.

For example, in 2004 the lesson was hidden in heaps and piles of tragedy.  First the loss of my Grandmother, then the loss of EB, but the tragedy wasn’t the lesson.  Yes, both losses were awful.  Yes, both appeared to be more than I could ever survive at the time.  But the lesson I learned was that I could survive.  The lesson was in learning that inside of me there is a core of solid steel and iron and nothing can take me down permanently.  Oh, it may put me on my knees for a while, and it may force me to ground for a short time.  But it will not stop me.  I will survive, I will come back stronger, and I can survive anything.

I survived.

Then, in 2010 the lesson was learned with the decision to go back to school.  Something I had run from for years.  Because I was afraid of failure.  Because I listened to “can’t” and let it lead me.  In 2010 I quit listening.  I decided to listen to can.  And I started changing my life.  With the first classes completed at the end of Fall Semester I knew again that I could do this thing I’d put off for so long.  I was smart enough, and tough enough, and I had what it took to change my own life.  And so I did.

I changed.

And last year, in 2012, when I lost my Mom, again I learned my lesson through tragedy, but it may well be the lesson that I’ll never let go of.  When she died I was halfway through my BAS degree and all I wanted was to quit classes, curl up in a ball, and just let grief take over.  But I didn’t.  I did what needed to be done to say goodbye to her, we settled as much of her life as we could, and I came back home and picked up where I left off.  I finished my Spring Semester classes with A’s & B’s, registered for Summer and finished those with all A’s, and I graduated after a Fall Semester of 16 hours with A’s and B’s again.  Three semesters of Dean’s List & President’s List.  After the worst loss I’ve ever been dealt.  The one that I don’t think I’ll ever totally get over.  But the achievements weren’t the lesson.  The loss wasn’t the lesson.  The lesson was in learning that by doing what I did I truly am my Mother’s daughter.  And I always have been.  So that core I found in 2004?  That steel and iron?  That’s my true inheritance from her.  That’s how she was.  Nothing stopped her.  And I am her.

I took control.

So as you can imagine, this year I’ve been watching, and waiting, and this year’s lesson, as usual, didn’t make itself obvious.  But I think I know what it is now.  And it’s been a good one to learn.  A hard one though.  Challenging to everything I ever thought before.  And truly one that I never expected to learn, ever.  Furthermore, this is one that I’ll have to eat some words over.  Because this year I’ve learned that if you’re living fully then nothing in your past is ever totally past.  And some things never die.  Of course there’s a whole back story, and (of course) this lesson started with another death and a reunion to mark that event.  But from that beginning it has finally culminated in the startling realization that sometimes your first love might actually have indeed been love and not some silly infatuation.  You know, the thing I laugh at the most in my 15 year old niece when she says “Oh I love him” about the most current boyfriend.  The words that cause me to eye roll and say “you love Macaroni & Cheese” and laugh.  Yeah, I won’t be doing that anymore.  Because I just don’t know.  What I do know is this.  Over the last six months the boy/man who was my very first serious relationship has come back into our lives.  And I say our because this re-entry has impacted both myself and Bob.  But before you freak out, we are still most definitely married.  And we’re staying that way.  But it’s been a process for us as I wrapped my head around the idea that this huge, big love I had for this person and that they had for me is still there.  We’re not in love anymore, but love never dies.  It just goes quiet for a while.  But one day, when you least expect it, you find out that it’s still there.  It’s still love.  I still have it.  It never left.

I love.

But that’s not the lesson.  No.  As funny as that is, there’s a much bigger truth in this year’s lesson that goes far beyond just that simple word with all its complications and challenges.  No, the bigger lesson, I think, is that I’ve finally learned that I am never totally alone.  Despite my solitary soul.  Despite my walls and shields and devices that I use to hide away and protect myself from the people who have moved through my life.  I am not alone.  I am still connected to them all.  And every one of them have a huge meaning to me.  To my past – through my present – and on into my future.  Connections.  Deep.  Shallow.  Close.  Distant.  But still connections.  And this lesson, I think, might be the best one yet.  To learn that I have a complex and large safety net, comprised of people that I could not live without.

People I love.

So I’m learning again.  It’s hard.  And it’s tricky.  And I’ll learn more again today.  Just like I did yesterday.  Just like I will tomorrow.  Thanks Mark for this one… it’s all on you.  I’m glad you’re a part of my life again.  We’re much better adults than we were as kids, just learning how to love and like each other.  Today we’re good at that.  And our lives have moved apart from each other but again we’ve ended back together… this time as good friends who truly understand the power of love.  And thank you EB for being the one who moved me forward and finished the lessons I started so long ago.  And thank you Bob for knowing just how much I love you too.  You are one of the three chapters of love in my life and I am blessed for that every day.

And the next time Kaylea says she loves some boy I think I’ll have to control the eye-rolling because you just never know about love.

And sometimes its true.

Love never dies.