He told me how scared he was to leave. How wide and big the future seemed. How every direction felt equally wrong and right all at once.
“I know this sounds weird, but this is a special time. Try to enjoy it.”
My words ring hollow. They are made of solid lead. They taste sour, even in my own mouth.
The tricky thing about life is that it’s hard to enjoy the time while you’re in it. Especially the hard stuff. When you’re in the middle of the hurricane, all you can hear is the howling of the wind. You’re in the thick of it, and that’s all you can see. The unknown. The trepidation. The shape of the fear. You can’t appreciate the value of a lesson you haven’t yet learned.
I remember that particular storm. It’s easy to look back in fondness now that the moment has passed. It’s almost impossible to do so when you’re smack dab in the middle.
I didn’t know then because I couldn’t have seen. I hadn’t lived through it. I wish I could’ve given myself the story, had allowed myself to read that very last chapter, to know how this thing would end. That it would pass. That I’d be okay after all. But I couldn’t. And I shouldn’t have regardless. Because some things are meant to be lived, not read.
This time, too, I am scared and fearful. Full of nerves for the unknown.
29 weeks pregnant and life is about to tip on its axis. My world will be re-arranged. Altered and never going back.
I’m trying to appreciate the end of this season. To smell the metaphorical flowers and soak up the simile sun. I am trying, this time, to stand at the edge with a heart full of faith instead of a body riddled with fear. To whisper yes, to trust myself, my husband, the universe. To know that I will rise. That I’ll figure it out. That this too shall pass.
I’m taking the lessons I’ve learned over the past five years and putting them in my pocket like stones. This one for patience. This one for trust. This one for learning to savor.
I’m walking into the woods, and I don’t know what the other side will look like. But I’ve been here before. Yes, I’ve been here before. And I know I’ll find my way out.
I don’t know when I became an adult. When I graduated college? Bought a house? Got married? Paid for my own health insurance?
When did it happen? What did the moment look like?
Somewhere along the line, I did it. I knit this life together with shaking hands.
Just this morning, I sat in my home surrounded by my things. My dog, my books, my coffee cup. My pictures and my flowers and my warm fuzzy blanket. Just things. Just the things that make up my life. The things I’ve strewn together with such care.
We like to think that change feels like being thrown in the deep end. But most of the time, change is deciding to swim from shore to shore. We wade in the water. There’s no end in sight. We get deeper and further with each stroke. And eventually, we make it.
I told him, Look at all we’ve built together. But really, it’s look what we’ve received. Look how we’ve been blessed.
Life is not a piece of IKEA furniture. It doesn’t come with all the parts. There is no instruction manual. Some people think success is a formula that can be learned. But success isn’t even a word that can be universally defined. You can’t recreate something that is constantly changing.
I didn’t earn a single thing that happened to me. I just met each opportunity as it came across my path. I took a step off the shore and chose to swim.
Write the word faith on one hand and the word hustle on the other. That’s it. That’s everything you need to know. That’s the place we need to be: the intersection of faith and hustle. Because life takes care of us when we let it. That’s the faith part. But the hustle comes when we grab the moments with both hands and choose not to let go. What’s that saying? Opportunity is missed by most because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.
This is what I whisper to myself at night, what I should have told him when he asked: Have faith that things will happen to you the way they are meant to. And when they do, work like hell to make the most of them. Live in this space. Set up camp here. This is how you build a life.
The fear won’t end, though. That’s part of the lessons.
It does get easier. You remember your way. You pick up your stones. You make your guide map. You know things like who you are and how you’ll react and what you need to do to take care of yourself in the dark moments.
But the fear still comes, and it’s foolish to think that it won’t.
Fear clings to change, and change is inevitable. It’s part of the package. Learning to navigate change and ignore the fear is a battle we will fight again and again.
But there is a beauty in the struggle and a satisfaction from doing the things we are petrified of doing. There is power in showing up with a pounding heart and shaking hands and just doing what needs to be done to move the needle forward. One day you will look back and smile. One day you will realize what all this was for, what this was in service of. One day, you will be so grateful, you’ll forget to remember the fear.