This blog is going to be difficult to write, but I need to work through what I am feeling tonight.
I had such a great time at the beach this week. Being with my daughters is always entertaining! I am so blessed to have them. Spending time with my good friend was therapeutic as well. And I had the opportunity to make some new friends.
But it was not the same, and it never will be. The beach is one of those places that holds so many precious memories. Even when we did not live near the beach, we often vacationed there as a family. I can still see the girls and their dad out at night with their flashlights looking for "fibbler" crabs. (That was what Anna called them.) There were sand castles galore in those years. Those two little girls would be covered in sand from head to toe as they posed for pictures with their creations. Of course, no trip was complete without being buried in the sand with only their little heads sticking out. But my favorite memory of all is to watch them running down the beach ahead of us. I can close my eyes and still see their little footprints in the sand.
Those little girls are now teenagers. The tiny footprints in the sand are just a memory. And now, that family of the four of us together is just a memory as well. So what do I do with those precious memories? As I sit on the beautiful beach with my girls and my friends, it seems that I have three options.
1. I can try to erase the memories from my mind. I just WILL NOT think about them at all. They make me sad, and I do not want to be sad, so I will just put that part of my life behind me and move forward. Let's just make new memories and forget about those. Now we all know that is not practical. Those are treasured moments in time. Who would want to forget those little footprints?
2. I can dwell on those memories and that wonderful family that no longer exists. I can spend all my time grieving for that family. This option is not healthy either. We know where this one leads. It leads to "the dark place," and I cannot let myself go there.
3. In the words of one of my favorite '80s song, I can "Hold On Loosely." As I sit on the beach, I see many beautiful sights. There is a little girl with curls drawing in the sand. I look at her and smile. That could have been Lily at three years old. Later in the day I watch a sassy little one stomp her foot and demand her way. I chuckle to myself. That could have been my strong willed Anna at the end of a long day. In the late afternoon I see a sweet young couple holding hands as they walk down the beach behind their two children. I smile as I watch them. That could have been us years ago. We were like these families, and it was good. As I recall all these treasures in my mind of days past, I am thankful. But I will hold on loosely to the memories. I will think of them, be thankful for them, and then let them go. This is the healthy option, and this is what I choose to do.
That was one book of my life, but the last chapter has been written. I have put that book away on a shelf. I will take it out from time to time and read some of the chapters. But then I will put it away and be about the business of writing my new book. This week's chapter was all about a single mother at the beach with her two beautiful daughters. She enjoyed time with old friends and she even made some new friends. She and her daughters laughed a lot. It was good. Yes, the first book of my life could have been a best seller, but this one is shaping up to be a great read as well!
The point is this. Once again, it comes to choices. I choose to cherish the sweet memories but to hold them loosely. I choose to live in this moment, not the past, and make this new journey in life be the very best that it can be.
I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.
Philippians 3:12-13 (The Message)