March 1st is special. Making it here means that I have–one again–made it through the hardest part of the year, winter. Since Mamaw passed away in 1989, I’ve dreaded Christmas and, since living in Alaska, I’ve struggled with winter. November through February is a tough time. “Just hang in there till March 1st,” I tell myself every year. Well, I made it! Again! March 1st! Here we are!
As good as I am at connecting things, it only struck me just today that my special day for making it through the dark period is also my Mom’s birthday. Since she passed away in 2003, I haven’t done much to acknowledge her birthday. March 1st has meant that spring with all the sunshine, warmth, and goodness is upon me. It’s my day of celebration for making it through the tough time.
Today, as I was looking for an old photo to go with a story I’m working on, I came across a birthday card from Mom. The card was from 1989, a front runner for Hardest Year of My Life. Mamaw (Mom’s mom) had suddenly passed away earlier that year and things at home were precarious, at best. I was in shock after Mamaw passed and there was no solace to be found anywhere especially at home. Seeing 1989 on the card brought up all the feelings of emptiness, worthlessness, and heart-being-ripped-out pain that I was feeling. 1989 was a bad, bad year.
Before finding this card today, I was waiting for a story to come to me, something to help me convey how thankful I am to have not only survived all the difficult things I’ve gone through, but how I am a better person for having experienced all those things. We don’t grow without struggle. This is something I didn’t understand until these past few years as I’ve chosen to go outside my comfort zone to get to the extraordinary things I knew were waiting for me. Growing up, I didn’t have a choice, but I do now. I could have played it safe and stayed put in an easy place, but that wouldn’t have been my life. It would have been me living someone else’s life. My life has afforded me opportunities to forgive big stuff and to learn what happens when I pray for my eyes to be taken from worthless things. It’s so good to be here. I’m me, the real me! I’m not someone who wants the white picket fence or happily ever after. I want realness, risks, and raw truth telling. I want the courage to say, “God bless you, but kindly get the f*** out of my way” to anyone trying to tell me I can’t live my dreams. Even though I still have work to do, I am living my dreams, basking in the warmth, and never dimming my light. I’m finally loving myself and I have such amazing love in my life.
I read mom’s message again as it fully reaches me for the first time today. She tells me that my struggles will make me into the person I have become. Here’s what she said:
I’m sitting here thinking how our lives have been changed during this past year. I’m sorry that your home life has not been the security and strength that is so necessary for a good foundation in life, but I know with your determination and intelligence that this will not be a stumbling block for you but a step forward in your endeavor for your goals.
Always reach for your goals, don’t look back, go forward and when you reach that mountain top be proud of your accomplishments. I know you will make it. Always remember that no matter what happens in any ares of our lives that I love you very, very much. You have been a blessing to me and I am so proud of you. Keep up the good work. Always keep God first in your life, remember He is always there for you and He will and can carry you thru all phases of your life if you will just let Him. Happy Birthday, my sweet Dana. I hope this is a wonderful year for you. With all of my love, Mom
Happy Birthday, Mom! I made it through! And this is going to be my best year yet!
If you are struggling, it sucks! I’m not gonna sugar coat it. It is painful. I’m so sorry you’re going through all of this. Please also keep in mind that something good is on the other side. You will make it through. Peace and love to you, Dana