I've had a lot of time this summer to reflect.
Weekends, shuttling back and forth on the long hot expanse of I-5 blacktop that leads between Portland and my parent's farm as I watched the brain tumor slowly erase everything that made my father, my father.
Nighttime, sitting outside on the front steps that lead to the house I love, knowing that inside awaits the systematic dismantling of everything that made it a home.
Afternoons, brainlocked in my manuscript as I cut, smoothed, rewrote.
Here's what I've learned.
Although learned isn't the right word, not exactly. Instead I should say, here's what I've internalized.
Things happen in seasons. We can hold on tight or we can let go with grace. In the end, it doesn't matter what we choose because the tide that sweeps us along is stronger than whatever desperate grip or mental recalcitrance we can muster in its face.
Which isn't to say we are without choices. Far, far from it. The choices are endless. They stretch out in unending variety, waiting for us like a supersized bag of rainbow-colored Skittles, apparent the minute we open our eyes.
I'm at the end of my long summer of reflection.
My father is gone. My husband is set to return. Soon the house will be a vacant shell and our new lives in a suburban beltway town will begin.
I could spend the next three months burrowed inside myself waiting for a glimpse of sunshine or I could make my own. I can set our lives on launch speed, dive into our new community, the new book, new friends...everything that amounts to the next chapter (literally) with passion and energy.
It's a choice.
That's something else I've, not just realized or learned, but internalized. Life isn't guaranteed. No money back offers or refunds for less than satisfactory moments. It's up to me to devour it, create joy and savor all those little moments like they're a celebratory glass of Chateuneuf du Pape.
It's not just what my father would have wanted. It's what I want.
And understanding that, is the magic pill that makes all those choices go from impossible and invisible to crystal clear.