There was a horrendous fire in Calgary this week. Three homes burned to the ground. Three families rootless, their life possessions gone up in smoke. One of the women interviewed in the newspaper said, "It's just a house. The memories you can't replace, but everything else you can."
When Conrad, the man who promised to love me 'til death do us part and took my death part way too seriously, was arrested on May 21, 2003, I looked around at the devastation around me and was stunned by what I saw. I had no home. No belongings. No savings. No job. No car. My daughters were 1,000 miles away, living with their father. For those final 3 months, they hadn't known where I was. If I was alive or dead. And then the police phoned and told them their worst fear had not come true. I'd been found. Alive.
In those first days of freedom, I wasn't too ecstatic about being alive, but.... it was better than the prospects had he not been arrested. It didn't take long, however, for me to be grateful for the miracle of my life. Without the overpowering presence of his disorderly conduct breathing down my neck, clouding my every thought, I quickly realized the benefits of breathing freely and easily.
Without the burden of possessions, my decisions were pretty simple. Get a job. Start saving. Start re-building. Start doing whatever it took to heal. Start doing whatever it took to help my daughters heal.
There was no sense in looking back. I couldn't change one iota of the journey to that moment of his arrest. I could change what I did. How I did it. How I healed. I could change what I created in my life moving forward. Love and harmony. Or Anger and discord. The choice was mine.
I was blessed. My sister and her husband had come to my aid. I had a safe place to catch my breath, regain my sense of direction and heal. I knew that given time, my daughters, while angry, hurt, confused about what had happened to their mother and fearful that something else might happen if Conrad appeared on the scene, would heal. They knew I was alive. They knew where I was. I knew we could reconnect in love because love was the cement, the foundation, the bond that had supported us throughout our lives together. We needed time. We needed truth. We needed courage. -- We had all three. (And, I still had Ellie, my faithful Golden Retriever who had journeyed through that hell beside me.)
At 15 and 16 it was terrifying to my daughters to realize all that they'd had was gone. It was sad.
And yet, we survived. We reclaimed our lives and are living today, in love with our lives together. Alexis just graduated from college and along with Liseanne who is entering her second year at college, they are exploring the paths that will lead them into the future without fear that the past will repeat itself.
Losing everything is hard. It hurts. It's got its moments no matter how far I move forward from the past. Those times when, while serving dinner or setting the table, I'll reach for a dish and realize, I don't have it anymore. Or, I'll be walking through a store and see a dish or crystal glass and remember, ' I used to have those dishes'. And I'll fell a little ping of regret. A fissure of anxiety connected to that time, that man, that horror. When I do, I shake my head, take a breath and remind myself --That was then. This is now. Can't change the past. I can create a better future by living fearlessly and passionately right now.
About two years after the debacle ended, Liseanne had to write an essay for her Grade 11 English class. She picked a story about a woman and her mother's blue bowl. The story was about memories. The author had broken her deceased mother's favourite blue bowl and went on to tell the story of that bowl, and how, even though the bowl was broken, she still had the memories of her mother to cherish.
In Liseanne's essay, she wrote about how she related to the author's story because she had lost everything. All her cherished items disappeared from her life with only a few things left to remind her of her childhood, and her past. And yet, she wrote, they were only things. The value wasn't in the things, she said. It was in the memories and the love she carried with her always. No one can take my memories from me, she wrote. No one can take away love.
Some things in life are precious beyond words. Liseanne's story was a reflection of her beautiful spirit, her forgiving heart and her awesome ability to rise above the turmoil of the past and step graciously into the one thing that could heal her. Love.
Once upon a time I got lost on the road of life and fell into the hell of loving a man who was untrue. Through most of that relationship, I wanted to die. Thought about it constantly. Plotted it frequently. I could never take my own life however, because I held onto one thing. Love. I love my daughters and could not make a lie of that truth.
Since getting my life back, my daughters and I have worked hard to rebuild our lives. I've been blessed with their forgiveness and their love and, I've been blessed with the love of family and friends who opened their arms and embraced me in all my woundedness, and loved me back to good health when I couldn't love myself enough to care.
We accumulate a lot of things in life. Lose lots too. It's only stuff. While losing everything was a hard road to take to get to where I am today, right here is where I want to be. In love with myself and my world around me. Free to make choices that support me, honour me, love me. Free to be all that I am meant to be when I let go of the fear of never being enough for someone else to love me.
I am, we are, always enough. Just the way we are.
In love with all of me, beauty and the beast, I am free to fly free of the past as I journey into today unencumbered with regret, anger, and angst that what could have been never will be and never should have been in the first place!
What could have been is nothing compared to what is when I step courageously into myself and embrace the wonder, the joy and the love of my life today.
We come into this world in love. It's all we can carry with us when we leave. It's all we can leave behind. May you journey into your day free of regret, knowing you carry with you the most precious gift of all. You are the love you seek when you step into yourself and embrace all you are in love.
Have an awesome day.