Last year, I miss you already.
Because with every intimidating level of unsurity, you also brought the most beautiful layers of change. Now change has never been a friend of mine. I, less eagerly than most, marked my childhood birthdays with sadness, ever sorry to have to leave the last age behind, to let go of a year that I wanted to keep being in. But occasionally you reach this place, this spark in life where things no longer become about counting age. They are now about life and age is only movement, and change, the other enemy of my youth, becomes a sweet moment of recognition and embracing that you had something once, that you’ve been there, and this moment is another recognition of the next thing you will look back to and say, I’ve been here. I’ve done this. I have been alive in this way. I lived this long, I became this, I watched someone else become, I felt and I knew and I went forward. I lived in a moment instead of the past, instead of fear of the future, I learned to love, I learned to forgive, I learned to believe. I learned what hope is. Time moved, I aged, change happened but all that really means is I became again. As it’s happening I am becoming.
…This moment is a recognition of the next thing you will look back to & say – “I’ve been here. I’ve done this. I have been alive in this way. I lived this long, I became this, I watched someone else become, I felt and I knew and I went forward. I lived in a moment instead of the past”
I had a moment of hesitation while writing this, “should I say this in this tone? As if I’m embracing the past year and the present and age and change?” Will that be painful to someone because this year has been full it’s actually been loaded up with all types of pain and suffering I’ve watched in various forms unfold around me. In sickness, in loss, in death, in broken things and broken homes and ends. Surely there is no embracing of that change? There is no taking a cancer diagnosis, a brain anuerism, a broken life, a spouse or a father taken too soon and holding it to yourself and saying, this too is movement, this is a part of life, I will take this with the bad? Actually, yes, I’m afraid that is part of it. And this year has made me stand and watch what that looks like and how it’s held and handled in many lives that I love. And that’s why I know that’s part of it. I have watched men and women age gracefully, accept change with grace and dignity and bravery. To even embrace that this too, this terrible, unexplainable ripping away, tipping of the scales, tragedy, this too is a part of becoming, it’s part of time.
Watching that movement, watching a family or a spouse rise up and cope. Watching them comfort and grow strong together. Watching the retaliation to tragedy be patience and sympathy. It’s been beautiful, it’s been terrifying, it’s been inspiring. Cause I know that the future, which will soon be the present, that change, when it comes will stand in front of me and let me know it, it will let me hold it, and mark the last place I was as a part of me. Something I know, something I’ve been through, a place I’ve been too and a thing I’ve passed. Milestone, marker, days, relationship, birth, love, time, death- all together, separate, moving. Getting to know more truth, learning life. It’s all to mark time, it’s all to mark you, with what you’ve reached, what you’ve done, what you’ve known and walked through and how that becomes who you are and life becomes bigger, and other peoples lives become more significant, because they are marking time and you understand the things they pass through. You know what loving someone is now that you’ve seen the things you’ve seen because now empathy and understanding is something that’s part of what you’ve become, this year you know what you didn’t last year. Time and change and age and another year is something to embrace. I am so thankful for this past, for this year of time to mark my aging body, one year closer to the end, but one year closer to everything else that I will know, live through and love before I reach that end.
“I watch men and women age gracefully, accepting change with grace and dignity and bravery. To even embrace that this too, this terrible, unexplainable ripping away, tipping of the scales, tragedy, this too is a part of becoming, it’s part of time.”
I am thankful for the past, I’m thankful for the people that I’ve known in it, I’m thankful for the chance to have life with them, to watch them age, to watch them change and grow, to see the grace with which even the storms can be navigated, if you grab ahold of what comes and throw yourself in and allow it to make you, to force you to rise to the occasion, to the moment, to the change. I am thankful that after so much sorrow, you can reach points where you see the good again, where you are inspired. Where love becomes tangible and where hope is something to supplement each moment with.
Thank you for being in this life with me.
Thank you for aging beside me. Thank you for letting me see the things that are here, not in the past, not in the future, in this day. I am so inspired, I am so stirred to choose to live and throw myself into love the way we are created to by seeing the beautiful fight and quiet grace with which the people around me have faced and walked through tragedies that I haven’t known myself yet, things that make the petty things we stress and battle about seem so wrong. There’s not time for that, there’s only time for thanking God for yesterday, putting all we have into today, instead of waiting for the hopes and dreams we could have start putting yourself into what you do have, don’t be afraid of it and grabbing tomorrow when it becomes today and throwing ourselves recklessly into love, into hope, into new life allowing that it might be more than anything we are clinging to.
“It’s time to move to the next place, the next year, the next hope, the next age… Throw yourself in and fight for it, throw yourself in and be content, throw yourself in and allow it to be better than before, throw yourself in and be alive.”
We are designed for hope and faith, love is designed for us. God set us up with this beautiful free will, where we have to decide to live fully, we have to decide to love, we have to risk things, we have to take steps in the dark and jumps into the unknown. And those things are part of what we are meant to learn to embrace. Age and time and hope, acceptance of what is here, but belief in what will come, and love for what has passed, all at once, all of that together is life… It’s all meant to be a much more beautiful thing than we allow. We are meant to be very intriguing books, to tell very full and complete stories on the pages of our years. That’s what’s supposed to happen when we let ourselves go and open ourselves back up, even if we learned to hide and narrow ourselves to protect ourselves from pain with good reasons. That’s not life, it’s surviving. Not allowing the next thing to happen because there’s already something happening. “No, no little Daniele who didn’t want to stop being 8 years old because you love that number… What would you do without the things that you became at 9 and 10, what would you do without Josh and Jess to be your best friends to watch them grow and walk through life with? What would you do if you stayed 10, if you stayed 14, if you stayed 17 or 19?” What a vast difference looking back now. Look at what I would have missed.
I thought I had something good before, I thought I had the good past, something I could count on… But if I still had that past, I wouldn’t be. I wouldn’t be what I can be, and I wouldn’t know what I know. And we may think we know love, but when it meets us in the future, we realize what we thought we had was only a shadow of what was to come. Allow yourself to love the hope of a better day. The truth of the moment. The risk of letting the past go and recover and be without you. Let it go so you have room to know new things, so there’s room for old things to become new, to become better. Allow time to happen, allow people to change, allow them to go, allow yourself to suffer, allow yourself to grow better able to be alive, to love deeper, to know what life actually tastes like. Don’t be a picky child. Don’t be a little girl never tasting an olive, never wanting a birthday to come and go, never taking the risk because it was so sad the last time, or it was so good the last time and it won’t be that way again… It can happen. Change can be good.
“I am not turning over a new leaf, I am a new leaf constantly, turning over with time, willing finally to be blown around by life, to be written on, to be stretched and expanded, to love and be loved, to fight and to sit in silence, to know challenge and contentment, to suffer and to triumph, I want it all.”
Even that sad little girl who spent most of her childhood melancholy, regretful, wishing for things in the past or in books, always wanting to be better, and feeling like it wasn’t enough, instead of being excited about what could happen, what might be in the glorious unknown of the moment, and the next moment. Allow it to be high and low and good and bad and life and death. Allow life to be that, allow love to be that, allow yourself to give and receive and try again with the people around you.
I am not turning over a new leaf, I am a new leaf constantly, turning over with time, willing finally to be blown around by life, to be written on, to be stretched and expanded, to love and be loved, to fight and to sit in silence, to know challenge and contentment, to suffer and to triumph, I want it all. I want what life has to offer me, I don’t want anything less, I don’t want to be in autopilot, I don’t want to be numb or tolerate change and people, I don’t want to hold back in fear, none of it. I want to be alive, I want to be allowed to be in a new year. I want those around me to live this way too, I don’t want to see them crippled by the past, or scared by something they tasted before and afraid to ever eat again. I want the people I love to get all of life they can, right beside me, I want them to learn as I’m learning. I want them to be as inspired as I am by the deep love and strength I see as someone watches their life partner, their love face a serious illness, or maybe even be taken by it, watch them stand to the end and know when to let go and know when to fight and believe and throw themself into believing they will survive or if they don’t they will let them go because it’s their time. I want to live like that, I want to throw myself in and fight for every moment, until it’s time to stop fighting and move to the next place and then throw myself in again.
It’s time to move to the next place, the next year, the next hope, the next age… Throw yourself in and fight for it, throw yourself in and be content, throw yourself in and allow it to be better than before, throw yourself in and be alive.