As I was walking up the cemetery lawn for the service for my children's teacher who passed away last week (to every teacher), I was contemplating the headstones. The dates alone tell a story. This person was 49 when he died, there was a toddler, and there were many headstones for married couples with a predominant amount where the husband had passed away and only a name and birthdate was inscribed for the surviving wife.

So many stories. So many beloved people. But does a headstone prove you were loved? What about the grave marker I saw with no name? What about the people who never have In loving memory inscribed on stone for them?

I wondered what my story would look like to someone. Will I have a double headstone or be like the single grave of some woman that didn't offer any clue whether she had anyone left behind—just her name and birth and death dates? I often wonder if I'll be here until Christ returns in his glory, which means I will be around to watch many others leave.

I have a great-aunt who is the last of her peers. When I visited her this past weekend, she told me that when she moved into her little home the bishop at her church introduced her to a row of little old ladies to befriend and sit with each week.  And now, she is the only one left of her group. She seemed to be alright with it, but there was resolve in her voice that she knew she would be by herself. She also asked me how old I was when I got divorced; I was 36. She told me she was 34 years old when she last divorced, and she never married again. My great-aunt is to be 87 years old next month. Over fifty years without a companion.

Looking to her example for strength on my lonesome days, I know I will find joy and keep adding to my story. I just wonder sometimes what it is shaping up to be. I wonder what people would say if they had to tell my story right now.

to every teacher

Got word this afternoon that one of my children's past middle school teachers died in a car accident on his way to work today. My first thoughts were for his family and then a huge wave of gratitude came over me.

I remembered a quick conversation at an open house in the fall several years ago when this teacher reassured me that my child would do well in his class, that he'd make sure all went smoothly, and that he was there to help. I remembered the absolute positivity he radiated to me in my distress and worry that another school year would be difficult. I remember now how much of a weight was lifted off of me by his confidence in his abilities to lead and teach my child.

It was such a breath of fresh air at the time. Not that the other teachers weren't helpful, but I distinctly remember how completely sure he made me of my child's success in that class. And he was right. He didn't let us down but was such a support. His guarantee was valid.

Today, I'd like to thank every single teacher out there who gives to their students (and their parents) the morsels of hope, blankets of reassurance, and that fresh air to breathe when students feel suffocated by life. I want to take a moment to recognize that I work at being that kind of teacher too. I'm sure that I am not perfect at this, but I am always striving to help and uplift and keep open the door to true education of the self.

I'm thankful for that teacher who helped my child and me during such a hard time in our lives. His life was cut short, but he made a real difference with his life. I'm thankful for all of you teachers out there who reach out beyond yourselves not even knowing what a difference you're making. 

half birthday

I had a half birthday last week, and I realized how weird it was for me to even pay attention to that fact.

My mom used to find any reason to help me feel special. I'm thinking my half birthday was one of her tools for that since I am conditioned to pay attention for it.

It's funny how we remember certain things about our lives, but we don't remember how it came to be. I wish my mom were around to remind me, to explain a little and take me to lunch as a silly treat on a day we pretend means something extra.

No one even noticed except for me, so it is pretty silly to even mention it now. I wonder if I'll ever find someone who will care about details such as that. Probably not, but it's nice to think about.

true love

There is such a thing as true love
It's the kind of love that waxes and wanes
The kind that gets you through the best
And the worst

True love is honest love
It doesn't have to be hidden
To exist
It just is

When you find this love
You don't always know what you have
Sometimes you throw it away
With both hands outstretched

Wishing you could reel it back in
As you are reeling from the loss
Of the song that your heart knows
Remembering who you are

True love looks like staying
Working to stay
Choosing to stay
Loving every day no matter what

As it breaks you
You become a golden god
Empowered to love more
Crushed yet invincible

True love takes you
Where you belong
Lifting you to eternal opportunities
Rise to the occasion, my love

Find me
I'm watching the horizon for you
Find us
I need you to find us

upside down

My house is a turned upside down mess that I keep referencing as a shook up snow globe. The resemblance is uncanny, and I must call it like it is. Although, it's making me crazy to not be able to just get everything put back together in efficient ways and carry on. Chipping away at a wreck of a place feels like zero progress. The truth is that I am a working, single mom with too much on my plate. Projects around the house never happen efficiently anymore. Frustrating as that is, it is my reality.

As I think about the struggle, I am reminded of my joy quest I did this summer, and pineapple upside down cake comes to mind directly after that.

Pineapple upside down cake is not my favorite. They rarely look beautiful (in my opinion), and for some reason, they just aren't that appetizing to me. I like cake and I like pineapple a lot, but putting them together has rarely satisfied my sweet tooth.

And yet—pineapple upside down cake still is a treat. When you stop to think about it, there are thousands of varieties of sweet delights to make people smile, adding that touch of something you only get from a bite of dessert. I figure my life is like that right now. I have joy for the taking even if it's not my favorite. Maybe it isn't aesthetically pleasing or the right combination of perfect confection, but it's still sweet and fresh and something to find delight in.

Being upside down and caught in a snag of chaos is never part of anyone's plan, but maybe I can find all the joy that is here for me if I will let myself partake of it.