I’ve known it all along.
That season in life – it would visit me again.
Raising three sons there were science projects, mountains of homework, and multiple skinned knees. “Find the toy dinosaur” backyard games at birthday parties, hot dog dinners at baseball tournaments. Two ornery pugs running wild through the house. The staff began recognizing us at the emergency room. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for all of the neighborhood kids. Don’t forget the watermelon seed spitting contest in the street! Orchestra concerts, and broken windows. Kool-Aid stands and water guns. Skateboards and flashlight tag in the dark.
I boarded the life train and let the conductor press ‘full speed ahead’. Shortly after college I married and we were blessed with children. Totally ignored the reality of a season of doing life alone again. It hovered in the caboose, waiting for me.
It’s 3:00 a.m. and I’m lying in bed awake. Tonight the five of us – the people I lived under the same roof with for so many years – ‘my pack’ – went to sleep in separate places. An apartment in California. A college dorm in Montana. Two residences and a facility in Missouri. How did this happen? That thing – waiting for me in the last car in the train, whispers questions, “What’s next? Do you know? Is this all there is?”
I was a stay-at-home mom. A wife. Tunneling through a whirlwind. But we kept going. And doing life together. I tried. I did the best I knew how at the time.
My days were full. They were purposeful. There were endless meals to cook and laundry to finish. The house was always a disaster and the yard a mess.
My children grew up and then I got a divorce.
So, I went to this little bakery really close to my house last week. She and I were sitting at the same table chatting, waiting on a make-up consultation. A new acquaintance invited me. I thought it was a bit unusual to show cosmetics in a place selling cinnamon rolls and cookies, but it sounded like fun.
I’d never met this lady. She just started talking. I listened as she opened up. She looked down at her hands repeatedly, fidgeting them on the table. Her eyes became glassy as she revealed details of the messy divorce she was trudging through – mostly alone. Emotions raw, her narration reached deeper levels with me in that short time we were getting acquainted. Maybe she could sense I truly cared and held a level of understanding.
I’d recently walked her path.
They had plans. She and her husband of 25 years were building their retirement home, then something happened. It came out of nowhere. Everything crashed. Her story makes me angry.
Now she sits in an apartment alone. Lying in bed at night thinking, “What’s next? What do I do next?”
Your mind fills with the picture of yourself standing at the altar. You look stunning. You feel gorgeous, wearing a flowing white-sequined gown and gazing into the eyes of the man you love. Your heart is full of promise. ‘Till death due us part.’ Beginning a life together. There is not a speck of possibility of an end. Period. Not you.
Divorce happens to other people.
I fought it! I never planned to be divorced. Never.
But then I’m not in charge.
So now I find myself asking God, “What do I do next?”And there is just silence. Lots of it. Solitude. It’s not comfortable at all sometimes because of the unknown. So many unknowns.
But then – I realize something. With this new chapter I’ve been given gifts. Plenty of them. Peace. Hours and hours at my beckoning call. A wide open road. The world I occasionally longed for amidst a chaotic time – is now mine. Opportunity. A clean slate. I can do anything I want. I can waste time or use it wisely. Schedule, plan, organize, or squander it.
So I dream. And think. While I make plans, I commit to wait and watch. And praise God for His goodness and care for me. For providing everything I need right now. I’m choosing to trust that He will show me what His plan is next.
I remember the days filled with activity and cherish the memories. The good ones.
A little girl comes into my classroom every morning with a smile and a hug for me. Newly planted flowers on my deck – the sun’s rays shining out of a storm cloud against the horizon. A white silver-feathered dove gliding in front of my car suddenly.
These things keep me going.
A gift of a new journal from a friend. A thank you note and surprise chocolates.
God surprising me with a new roommate.
It’s going to be okay.
And I’m going to invite my new friend to meet me for coffee so I can tell her that it will be okay for her, too.