Reflecting on the measuring a year in a life used to be a blur…times of significant events usually sum it all up. Minutes become the measurement of reality of times of sunrise in the form of a baby’s birth, a first day of a new school or job, a new beginning or a stolen kiss. The measurement of sunsets are usually as beautiful but signify endings…the end of day, end of a life, a career change or a last day of summer. Focusing more on sunsets these days … That all encompassing beauty, breathtaking colors, the way it stops you in your tracks beauty. The way we can see it but not hear it, or smell it, or taste, or touch it, and yet it brings all the senses to a new heightened reality. I have recently been told I am in the Sunset days of my life. I choose to look at the beauty of that sunset and not the end of the life.
I came home from the neurologists office just the other day filled with such an accomplished resolve. She actually used the words “you far exceeded the six-month life expectancy” that I had for you, Marianne. As I have said, she had no idea who she was dealing with. I thought that I looked at things way different than I have ever observed before. But after reading a letter from a young woman I once mentored, I realized that mindset has been a lifetime in emergence. Here’s what Janie Willison wrote to clear that up for me “hi Miss Marianne! I been thinking about you and I wanted to tell you how much you have influenced my life and how much you have meant to me. When I was about 13 years old, I was a camp counselor in training at Jupiter first and you wrote me a letter I still have. That letter has gone with me during difficult times.
You said that when God gave out extra hearts I must have been at the front of the line. You must have been right in front of me! You taught me how to see the best in people, and to be kind no matter what. You also taught me that having fun and loving each other is the most important thing. Summer camp was so much fun when you were still working there it wasn’t about the schedules and the rules. It was about making sure the kids were loved and having the time of their lives! And we all did! Shaving cream and water day was the best! It was a wonderful place because you made it that way. I often think about your thinking chair, truth couch, and the “you have the power” rings you gave to children. I will always treat children with love and the respect they deserve because you taught
me that. You taught me to take the time to talk to a kid with a problem and allow them to be in control of their situation. Sometimes it’s hard to be a kid and a lot of people don’t see that. But you do. You really get people. Thank you for giving me and thank you for being such a huge part of my life. Love Janie
Wow, Janie, you stopped me dead in my tracks. Remembering a part of my soul I left many years ago…a very significant part of my soul I hid neatly away under a few years of misunderstandings, a season of sadness and depletion even those closest to me could not understand. I was doing life at that time on auto pilot. Afraid to admit I needed help, I sunk into the muck of people thinking I could raise my sister’s child, run a successful school, deal with a routine that would make sure my daughters and husband were balanced, my mother learning she had breast cancer, my ex having cardiac arrest, dying and coming back to us, and the desire of my heart to do more significant work on a grander scale in my career as an educator and leader, my desire to know more about the One who gave me life in the first place. Ashamed at my misconception of inadequacy, I told my friend, person I trusted, my boss, I couldn’t do it anymore . He couldn’t hear me any longer and I had not considered his own demons he struggled with, so he and his boss just tossed me out instead of listening to my heart. They told me I was no longer good at my job and I believed them. A sunset on a part of life that led to terrible destruction and a separation from my people that I cherished. Starting over is lonely and the pain was unbearable at the very least.
There is always new life, more beautiful and totally different from before. Untouched seeds took root and emerged from the chaff of burned embers. I started to journal all my life circumstances and knew that God was all I needed to turn it all around I no longer felt like I had lost a limb…I grew a new one and regenerated my lost soul. I learned that it was ok to make mistakes and you always get a valuable gift from dealing with challenges until they are seen through to completion I also learned that we are never alone. Our family and a few good friends are always the ones God sends to walk along side you or at the very least , have your back. This is the stuff that is now helping me hold on with locked tight tenacity to my weakening body and strengthening mind.
This story is very real, but also very personally sensitive. I cried a lot while writing it. The thing that ties it all together is the beauty of this sunset time of life…knowing all the while that in our fragility burns a fire of new beginnings and fresh tomorrows that incorporate yesterdays and become the salt and pepper of life.