Originally printed in the Penasee Globe – December 21, 2014
It was cold, dark, and snowing as the brisk wind cut through me. My headlamp illuminated the snow covered road beneath my feet as I ran. There were no tracks to follow. No one had been here anytime recently. There was only me. And I was making my own path.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the road. The road with the house with the sign, that is. Almost 2 years ago, I had been slowly plodding through some serious snow in this same exact place, when I saw the sign on their garage. In cutesy black script, it proclaimed “Life doesn’t get much better than this.” When I saw that sign 2 years ago, I was struck with an irrational and overwhelming urge to pull it down and attempt to break it in half beneath my feet like I would a brittle tree branch. Things were so very different then (although strangely the same). I took off for a long run one particularly bad morning and that’s when I saw the ridiculous sign that almost seemed to mock me.
A gust of wind brought me back to the present. As the snow swirled around me, I found my feet angling themselves to turn onto that road. It was a decision I didn’t consciously make myself. I looked at the sign as I got closer. It was unchanged by the previous 2 years. What a difference. It was my polar opposite. There wasn’t anything about me that remained the same. Everything about me had been touched in some way, shape, or form by what life had thrown at us.
I closed my eyes and the past 2 years flooded through my mind. Pools of blood from my son’s broken skull. My son’s laughter from the next room as his big brother tickled him. Screaming mid run in fear and sheer desperation. Laughing until I cried in the ICU with my husband. My son unconscious and seizing on the floor in front of me. Clutching a friend’s hand so hard it must have hurt, trying to convey everything I couldn’t say. Crying on the floor of a hospital room that smelled faintly of floor cleaner. It was devastating and beautiful and painful and amazing all at once.
I’m not sure when exactly the change took place. It was gradual and it snuck up on me. One day I could clearly see what I couldn’t before: hope, gratitude, and life. I found myself smiling at the sign, seeing it now with different eyes. I turned and continued to run, unsure of my destination but sure of my ability to blaze my own path.
It’s so easy to focus on everything that went wrong. Even at Christmas we all can lose sight of what matters. The greatest gift I have ever known was finding hope, gratitude, and life despite our circumstances. I wish everyone the ability to see things with different eyes and the persistence to make their own path.