A few days ago, my closest and longest childhood friend ran out of her apartment building as it went up in flames. The one we grew up in, playing dolls and eating pizza. She was able to grab the most important thing she owned. Not her wallet or her phone, arguably her whole life in one spot. The one thing she knew couldn’t be replaced: her 3 year old daughter.
Let that sink in for a minute. Reach to your left to open your purse, you don’t have one. Pull out your phone to get help, don’t have it. Prove your existence with an ID, no longer have one. Your entire life wiped away.
Life can sometimes feel like it’s going up in flames, wiped away right in front of you. It might be me turning 30 but it’s as if getting older puts a higher price on things we cherish. When I think of my tweenie friends (yes, I still have some…) it hits me. They just don’t know… you know? Because, in an instant, your life changes. One moment of gravity and your life turns upside down. It’s different for everyone and so we all have a story.
It’s so vivid in my mind still, sitting on a couch with my best friend having this conservation. I was in my early 20’s and it had a somber but carefree tone. Hey, what do you think “our thing” will be?
“What thing?” she asked.
Our thing, you know, the one thing that will change our life. I’m not being negative, let’s call it… realistic. We weren’t prepared for the “thing.” Sure, I loved everyone, moments were nice and fleeting and I remembered them with enough importance. I’m almost certain there’s an old phone somewhere with tons of great pictures stored away. I’d made strong friendships and have wonderful family ties, great. Marriage was fantastic. That wasn’t “the thing.”
Then I got pregnant and there you had it. My life almost lost during childbirth and my son born into the world of hospitals and surgeries. Shattered and crumbled, like a fire blazed through my once simple life. Life was teaching me to truly appreciate everything. Not in a Facebook update status kind of way; in a real life, in the moment kind of way.
My best friend, the one on the couch with me? She had a beautiful daughter in a natural water birth. 1 year later, her baby was diagnosed with stage 3 Neuroblastoma, a form of childhood cancer.
Maybe it has nothing to do with age, or maybe it’s everything. Thirty seems like a rite of passage, one you can’t get through without experiencing some class A crap. At any moment, life can change. So what’s in your control? You can choose to run from the wreckage around you, never letting it define you. Your life may change, but you don’t have to. So choose to have joy and bring joy to others. Be positive in the face of struggle. Despite traumatic change, you can find something to be grateful for.
The 2 pound preemie I brought into this world will be 5 this summer. Let me tell you, no joy to be robbed there. My best friend’s daughter is a cancer survivor, she just turned 3. These statements really sink into my heart and take root, and on their account, I let myself stop and reflect. Ask yourself, what’s irreplaceable? Look around you. Take it and run as if your life depended on it.