My birthday’s coming up, and I’m not sure what it is about birthdays-mine and others…I’m not THAT conceited;) but they always get me thinking. I’ve always loved birthdays… and to most people that’s kind of strange. No matter who’s birthday it is I love making things for people, being the first to wish them happy birthday, surprising, and making an all-around embarrassing big deal out of things.
To most I guess a birthday is just another day, no big deal, nothing too special. But to me, a birthday is a very big deal. I don’t mean throw me a huge party, give me everything I’ve ever wanted kind of big deal.That’s not what birthdays are about. I believe birthdays should be celebrated in their own special way. You should tell people you love them, think of the things you’ve accomplished in the previous year, and do something (big or small) just for you. Why? Because a birthday is a celebration of another year you’ve been blessed to live, and not everyone gets that.
So…obviously I’ve been thinking about the past couple of years and how much I’ve changed. I think it all started when I decided to move apartments, found a place, and practically signed the contract before I remembered “oh yeah….maybe I should call my dad and talk to him about this.” It is such a big change from my freshman year, where my parents practically walked me through finding a place to live.
I’ve also got to thinking about where my life is going. Thinking back to my High School days I had such a different plan for my life. But I look at who I am, what I’ve done, and where I’m going and I absolutely adore that my life has turned out the way it has. That brings me to my title…happily ever after.
There’s one funny thing about happily ever afters, and that’s the after. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good chick flick, guy gets the girl, fantasy fairy tale where everything happens just as it should. But, I feel like people get the wrong idea with happily ever after. Why? Because I used to be one of them.
The trick with happily ever after is people are always waiting for the after. After I lose 15 pounds I’ll be happy. After this semester things will be different and I’ll be happy. After I get married things will be better, that will make me happy. After I get out of debt I’ll be happy. After I get a new job, I’ll be happy. After I’m out of high school, surely…things will change and I will be happy.
I know people think like this because I used to. I was constantly saying to myself ‘after this things will be different and I’ll be happier.’ But folks, here’s the kicker. Life is full of knock-downs and drag-outs. Trials… they build character, they show people more about themselves than they ever knew, and they’re why we’re here.
So, my mom’s pretty sick. In January of 2013 when she first got sick I found myself miserably in the after stage. After chemotherapy was over, we’d all be happy. After the semester was over and it was summer I’d be happy. You know, in a way I was kind of right. I was happier when the semester came to an end, and my whole family had lighter moods when we finished the first round of chemo. But, I missed out on so many opportunities to be happy before.
It’s funny, how things kind of loop around-especially when there’s a lesson still to be learned. This January rolled around and what would you know? We’re doing the chemotherapy thing again. When I first found-out it rocked my world. The timing of almost a year to the date freaked me right out. I panicked and couldn’t help but selfishly feel like cancer would always be this cloud forever sucking the happiness from my family. We would miss another spring and summer as a normal family. Please, don’t judge me for the selfish thoughts I had. You really have no idea what cancer does to your mind.
But, here’s the good part. I had awesome people in my life and reflective moments where I realized I don’t want to continue the cycle. I don’t want to wait for my happily ever after. I have no idea how long we’re going to be fighting cancer, but I do know this. We are going to do it with big smiles on our faces, and we’re going to enjoy the ride. This isn’t the first trial my family has had, and it won’t be the last. That’s okay. In fact, I’m grateful for it. I’ve learned so much about myself, what I need, who I am and how to be happy.
Trials are there, it’s inevitable. But I believe for every trial in life there are at least 5 positive highlights to go with them. The trick is to look for the good. Appreciate the good news, embrace what is working, and find some sunshine in every day.
Yes, my mom is sick. Is it hard? Yes, it’s hard. But, I also have a lot of great things going for me. I have a church that gives me so much purpose, comfort and guidance. I have a God and Savior who know me better than I know myself. I have the opportunity to attend the best school for me and further my education. I have great friends and even better family. I have jobs and opportunities that miraculously keep crossing my path. ‘I’m going to be an aunt again in June, a miracle I’m so incredibly grateful for. I am a very blessed girl, and I thank God for it.
*you’re probably sick of me talking about my mom’s cancer and how much I’ve learned from it. I can’t help it. I just feel the need to share what I’ve learned in hopes others can as well.*
So here’s the deal. You go ahead and believe in happily ever afters. Really, please do. But don’t get tripped up on the after. If I were to re-write history, I think I’d just leave it at happily ever…no after needed. You can have your happily ever after right now, right this day, right this second. It’s up to you to decide if you’re going to be happy. It’s up to you to make your life everything you’ve ever wanted. It’s up to you to seize the day.
Am I the best at this? No, not even close. I still have my “after” moments and I can occasionally get in a funk. But, I’m working on it.
“I’m proud of the person I’ve become, because I fought hard to become her” – Anonymous.