these things I have learned

In the past eight months and twelve and a half hours, I have learned a thing or two.  About love and loss.  About pain and guilt.  About controlling what I can and trying to control what is beyond my reach.

I have learned about family and what makes a family and how a bloodline doesn’t decide the members of my family.  I have learned how family comes together and surrounds me with support; and that support comes from a favorite song sung with a granddaughter, or a hug from a not so toothy grinning six-year-old.  Family that hasn’t been together for several years engages as though it has only been several seconds.

I have learned that great friendships never fade, even though the hair color might.  And friendships that were once thought to be the strongest, now seem to be broken.  And classmates that were once really just classmates to nod a hello in the hallway, come together and wear silly hats and take charge of other duties so the focus is strictly feeling loved.

I have learned that people can be hurtful; but mostly are kind.  I have learned that sometimes my child’s in laws are not just an extended part of the family, but a part of my heart.  I have learned that a stranger can comfort; a young lady passenger was seated next to me on the plane and when the Grand Mesa was in full view of my window and the sobs came long and drawn out, with a gentle pat on my shoulder, let me know that it was okay to feel.

I have learned that my struggles are easier than the struggles of many.  I have learned to take the advice and the kind words to help me focus, because they know the journey and the road I find in front of me.

I have learned that when I am feeling pain and loss and heartache; that the majesty of the mountain is still the same … that the depth of the sunset is still amazing … and that the wonder of a child and the blessings from an aunt help to ease the hurt.

I have learned that, in time, memories will soften from the rawness of it all to tenderness – and maybe, even a smile.  I did not seek this life lesson, nor did I want it.  But here it is.