“You don’t have to live every moment like a Hallmark card,” my oldest and dearest friend once chastised me, “just because you’re afraid you’re going to lose it all.”
That was fourteen years ago. Last week, while morphine dazed in the emergency department after my wreck, her words echoed up from the canyon in my mind. I had been trying to remember if I’d kissed my sleeping children before I left for the day, wondering what my last words to them were. I knew I wasn’t dying- but WHAT IF I WAS DYING?
Because of my injuries, I’ve had an unusual amount of downtime. This manic, hyperkinetic, overachieving bustle-booty was forced into a lot of stillness. Physical immobility is not something I am good at. I chafe at meditation (WHO CAN STAND TO BE QUIET THAT LONG?!?!) and idleness gives me shingles. But I was forced to plant my butt in a seat and just reflect for a while.
And what I found was that it was those Hallmark moments that came up. I started looking back through this blog. Things I had forgotten about made me laugh and, a few times, cry. We have been in Australia for three years now. That’s a quarter of O’s life, and 1/5th of X’s. This is significant. But much of it has not made the pages here.
The first year was strong- at least bi-weekly posts. The second year there were only four. Last year, there were three- each several months apart.
I re-read every one. And I realised that, though I started the blog so that loved ones in the States could keep up with our adventure, I ended up really only writing for me. I was chronicling my life in this new, strange place and trying to make sense of what it means for me and my family. And I sputtered out because I got a little lost in the shuffle of it all. I was so busy DOING life that I neglected the reflection part, and that’s the necessary part for UNDERSTANDING life.
Damn. That hit me hard.
And I also realised that writing is my form of meditation. It’s my time to harness all the rattling thought marbles into an organised space. It’s also the only time I ever shut up for a minute.
*sidebar- I LOVE to talk. I talk all the time. I talk to anyone, about anything, all the time. Also to myself. And the radio, and inanimate objects. I will talk through a whole damn movie- unless it’s in the theatre, in which case (as everyone who has ever taken me to a theatre movie knows), I sleep through it. I apologise to everyone who has wasted their money on paying for a movie ticket for me. If any of y’all ever want to talk- hit me up- I’m also a great listener!
Looking back through these past three years of writing, I noted that a theme emerged for each year:
Year One – 2016 – Adjustment. We fell onto this continent with a few pieces of luggage and the knowledge that we had no idea what was going on, how to find out, and that we would have to re-organise ourselves as individuals and a family in this strange land. It was a confusing year.
Year Two – 2017 – Establishment. With Bambi-legged determination, we made the hard decisions to make it work to stay in Australia. We sold our house in the States and threw everything we had into this project. It was a difficult year.
Year Three – 2018 – Nesting. Things started to fall into place. I turned in more to the home life. Bringing beloved items and our dog from the States, moving furniture around, forging bonds with neighbours. It was a tender year.
Now we are entering Year Four – 2019 – Building. Since my accident on the 7th of January, I have taken the time to think very intentionally about what it is that I want to get out of this year. Now that my nest is padded, it’s time to get out of it. The accident reminded me of how fleeting our time is here. So, it is time to build.
I am focused on building my career. Things are taking off with that this year and I am so excited for my upcoming assignment. I love travel, and I love a challenge. This work is going to have both in spades.
I am focused on building my relationships. I am spending time doing things with my husband and kids that they love, even if I don’t care for it, because I love them. I am going out with friends and agreeing to meet up with strangers at events, even when I am feeling very home-ish, because it’s important for me to be with people besides my family (I’ve mentioned I talk constantly, right? They deserve a break).
I am focused on building my relationship with myself. I have had both a breast cancer scare and a traumatic accident within a nine-month period. I have lived 41 years on this Earth and have no guarantee for another. I often put my own needs behind those of others because it gives me joy. But I also like being nice to myself. I fucking deserve it.
I am focused on my writing. It is at once a part of my Self, but also a thing in itself. Something that I love and have neglected too often over the past year. So I’m making a commitment to just sit down and write. Some will make the public blog, but I am also going to return to my work on the memoir. It will be available in the private “Members Only” section. If you are interested in keeping up with that, and ONLY if I know you personally, contact me directly and I will give you the password.
So, yeah, my friend was right. I don’t have to live life like a greeting card. But my accident reminded me that life is delicate, and I could lose it. I want the Hallmark moments, damn it.