None of us leaves high school expecting anything but the best. The idea of being on our own is something we anticipate. The possibilities seem endless. There is a sense of anticipation that is almost a high. I remember thinking that any moment could be THE moment where something truly momentous would happen.
I had lived a pretty charmed life. My home life was stable. My mom was my best friend. School was what it is for most adolescents. I was neither popular nor unpopular. I was smart and good at sports. Nothing devastating had happened to me as of yet. I was just waiting for life to begin and I expected it to be something that dreams were made of.
At first it was. College was a blast. I had great friends, I dated some great guys, and I did some truly amazing, life-changing things. I met the guy of my dreams, fell in love and entered bliss. We got pregnant earlier than I wanted, but it didn’t take more than a couple of months for me to fall in love with that little life inside of me. My bliss had become more profound.
I had no idea then, how life changing that little being would be. I had no inkling that her life, and subsequent death, would send my life reeling for a decade.
Serena Autumn, my joy and my lifelong sorrow, would be ten years old today. It is almost nine years since she left us, and yet she still has a daily impact on our lives. Her absence is felt not only by my husband and I, but also by her sisters and brother. There is a hole in our family that will never be filled. I wouldn’t want that hole to be filled. She is a part of us.
But, I have also learned some very painful, but profound lessons. The first is that pain is not a stranger to most of us. Most people have either walked through a devastating event or will within their lifetime. It is part of the human experience even though we may want to wish it away.
The second lesson is the ability to live in the moment, to treasure it. You can never know when life is going to step in and deal you a blow. Treasure the moments with the people in your life. Yes, your kitchen may need to be cleaned, but that little girl begging you for a story will one day grow into a distant adolescent and your opportunity will be gone. The people, the moments, are more important than the details of life.
The third greatest lesson is that true friends are rare and should not be taken for granted. The friends who are there for you in your moments of pain, when it is difficult to be your friend and they get very little from it, are a treasure beyond price. Those of you who have been such a friend to me (you know who you are) are a blessing beyond words. Thank you.
So, I guess my point is that it is not a question of if pain will come your way, but more a matter of when. It may come out of a blue sky as it did for me. You might have been visited by it far younger than I. The point is, you are not alone in it, and even out of the most painful circumstances good can come.
For those of you in the middle of it, it will get better. For those of you yet untouched, enjoy each moment. For those like me who have gotten to the other side, never forget, but be changed forever, not by bitterness or anger, but by the understanding and appreciation for every beautiful moment you have.
I love you, Serena, and miss you every day!!