eyeThis post is a continuation of my story. It’s a fairy tale… with a twist.

Saying “yes” to the proposal was a rush. A very good one. To get caught up go here…and then read “up”. Or just start here . Either way, thanks for stopping by. In all my “My Story” posts, names have been changed for privacy; hence, the *.

Unfortunately, *Justin’s dad passed away. Because we had been dating for years and I truly adored his dad, losing his dad was devastating.

I was not “officially” part of the family, so I was not included in some of the family gatherings. I completely understood, and still do, but it left me to grieve alone. And because he wasn’t officially my father-in-law, I could not take off work. My assistant, at the time, was so gracious. She would step in to teach, when I couldn’t. She gave me space and permission to cry. She was my rock. My safe place to land each day. Looking back on that time, I know she was God’s grace to me. A “for such a time as this” person.

Of course, all wedding planning was on hold. My mind could not even consider planning something so joyous in the midst of all the sadness. Grieving needed to happen. And it did. Lots of it. Mostly in the shadows of the night where only God knew the depths of grief. But again, his Grace was sufficient and His presence evident. I knew I was not alone.

During the months that followed, I watched a grieving family cling to each other. To support and love each other in ways that had not happened before. Grief and loss does that.  It burns away all the things that don’t matter and leaves behind what does. Family.

And this family would soon be mine, as well.

Lighten Up!

laughIt’s funny how certain things from childhood are burned in my memory, while others are forgotten. I’ve had several friends begin with, “Remember when…” Rarely do I remember what they remember.

The biggest chunk of time that I’ve forgotten is Junior High. Not for the reasons you may think, because from what I do remember, I enjoyed Junior High (minus a few things). I had incredible teachers (well, except a few), great friends, loved the new “freedom” from elementary lines and bathroom passes, and did well academically. I just don’t remember many of the specific things my friends remember.

I do remember, though, it was the first time I realized that people are not invincible. That life does end here on earth. Hard lesson then, hard lesson now. My best friend, who lived across the street from me, was killed in a plane accident, along with most of her family. I do remember that moment changing life for me. From then on, life was pretty serious. We had planned to try out for cheerleader together. When she died, I decided it wouldn’t be right for me to try out without her. Almost as if it was not OK to have fun again, because I knew she couldn’t. I did eventually have fun and learn to laugh and play again, but mainly when I was with someone who would help me “lighten up”.

That’s probably why I enjoy friends who can help me laugh. I absolutely LOVE fun and trying new things and playing. But the problem is letting go of the responsible/serious side of me long enough to actually do those things. I often refer to myself as “Summer Mom” when I do lighten up and enjoy life. I’m typically more relaxed during the summer and can let things go easier than I can during the school year when the pressures of schedules, homework, etc. take over. I like myself so much more in the summer and often wish I could carry it over into the school year. It hasn’t happened yet, but it could. Maybe. Right?

I was reminded, once again, that life is oh so precious…and short. A sweet friend lost his dad last week. My heart breaks for him and his family. He posted, “You always think there is more time. All we have is this moment. Do it now.” He’s right.

His post has encouraged me to work on living in the moment. To take each day and try to do at least one thing that either makes my life better or someone else’s.  Even if the other person never finds out. To get out of my daily routine long enough to experience life differently. To “do it now”.

Sunday night I did just that. The Sunday evening when my kids leave for the week is often a hard one. It’s one of the few times I still  battle loneliness. The rest of the week I’m fine, it’s just beginning the week without them leaves me feeling empty. Not this week. I decided to go out with a friend and we tried a new restaurant. The food was excellent, but the company was what made the night. We laughed. And sometimes you just need to get out and laugh.

Yes, life can be serious. Choices are made, people disappoint, expectations aren’t met, you get one of “those calls”, etc. So many things happen that are out of your control, but learning to laugh in-spite of it all can help to lighten the serious part of life. For a moment or two, anyway.

So that’s my challenge to you. Decide what and who is important in your life. Choose ONE thing you can do TODAY that would over-ride your normal routine. Break out and do something different. You never know what could happen.

You may actually laugh…and enjoy it.