I had dreams, like everyone else, and I dreamed them with no real thought as to the possibilities of making them a reality. Until I had children to carry along for the ride. Then the thought of what kind of example I wanted to set, what kind of legacy I wanted to leave, what kind of path I wanted to carve for their personalities, their possibilities to achieve their dreams brought me around.
Upon analysis I found my dreams were not so incredible that they weren’t achievable. I built a family in which my children and two besides could grow and form strong lifelong connections to shore up the banks in the floods that were inevitable. I pursued love in that same quest; blindly I might add, oh so blindly. We were best friends, lovers and theoretically lifelong mates. I worked hard at it, but sometimes working too hard at something is just as detrimental as not working on it at all. We built a life together, a love and a future, made a real home for a strong family. It was not destined, but I had it while it lasted.
A home. A real home, a house and a place that was so much more than a physical dwelling. And so it came, hard earned and appreciated. A solid home for a strong family with a sure future laid out for the taking. If only they’d had enough sense to hang onto it instead of letting it fall by the wayside.
Among these dreams was the one I couldn’t ignore if I wanted to, to write and do it for the joy of others to read. I laid out a path, slow and sure. I’ve pursued the path; one stepping stone at a time, carefully, methodically and thus this dream too has come to pass. The most unlikely one of them all, in fact, and by far the hardest to achieve. Going to college, applying ass to chair and working my butt off in every aspect of my existence.
In the process I became so many things I didn’t count on becoming. Things that would become necessary for my survival in the destruction that lay ahead. Strength, tenacity, a survival instinct to rival the wildest creatures in the most challenging habitats.
These dreams, this world, did not hold, but crumbled around us like a sand castle in the waves that demolished everything I’d worked my whole life for in a hurricane against which I was defenseless.
And yet, I can say, I am one of the lucky ones.
I succeeded in fulfilling my dreams, even if I could not hold them. I didn’t become the girl who never made it past the boarder of my impossibly small hometown. I didn’t become the drunk that soaked himself to forget that he had hopes because he believed those who told him he couldn’t make them a reality. I didn’t become the woman who settled for what was at hand because she was afraid of being alone.
I have been a mother, a lover, a best friend many times over, a loyal and trusting wife who, given the chance, would have stood the test of time and trials. Several careers have come and gone, including a college career while raising four teenagers, renovating a 107-year-old house and working. Top that! I was a caring daughter to a family that didn’t care, but I did it anyway, because it was in my nature, because it was the morally and heartfelt thing and it was right. I tried to be a good sister and I hope somewhere along the way I was, to someone, because I couldn’t have tried any harder.
And now? The pain no longer burns, the resentment and anger have grown as cold as the rest. Despite it all I know, sitting here watching the world around me, the little hole of a small town that I pull into when my day is done, that I was one of the lucky ones.
I have watched my dreams born, grown and breathe. That is an accomplishment many will never know. I have known what it is to be part of a family, to have a real home, to be part of something incredible, to love and be loved.
These are not things that will dim in memory, that will turn black and white and finally grey and vague. It lives petrified in a cold and stony heart, a strangely complete fossil record of once upon a time. The ghost that walks the empty halls of my minds past, the memories carefully stored in the vacant rooms, dust gathering on their porcelain face and frilly edges.
It has come to my attention that I’m haunting those who have caused me pain. While many are haunted, few get to do the haunting. So that is something, a rose dripping with fresh morning dew.
So why does all this make me one of the lucky ones? When all is said and done I have no ties left to hold me to the ruins. No children are tied up in the disaster, no family left to which to cling. For all intents and purposes I am in a very unique position in that I can choose my own path as if I were starting out new. I can walk away. No collateral damage, no penalties. There is no one to tell me what I can or cannot do, no responsibilities to hold me down, no reason to either stay or leave.
I can dream fresh dreams, now that all the others are achieved and spent. I can seek out new paths, new accomplishments. Looking back I can say I did the best I could do and I have no regrets, for it took all of it to make me who I am and I am content with who I have become.
That lucky star shines it’s bright light, giving me a choice very few have, the decisions are mine to make any time I feel the desire to do something different. It’s a special kind of freedom, though painfully earned, that is truly rare and priceless. Even if I never use it, it’s there. It’s an option.
Life moves, it breathes, it never stops teaching us what we are capable of dreaming, achieving and becoming.