Shattered Hopes and Dreams

Assumptions become entwined in our very being from the start. Indeed, a secure infancy includes knowing that one’s basic needs will be met. Those basic needs are about more than food and shelter. An infant quickly comes to assume love and safety by a parent meeting his or her needs. As a person matures, we begin to assume and take for granted many things such as the parent should outlive a child; a child should be safe at school; hard work pays off; people get what they deserve, and my favorite, if I pray hard enough I will get what I am praying for. I was no different because I did pray each and every day for Phil’s safety and I did assume that at his rank and in his position he was safe. When he was killed, my core was shaken and for a time lay in tatters. I no longer trusted the world I was a part of. I no longer trusted myself and I lived in abject fear and hopelessness. I stood by and watched in horror the Sandy Hook story and I realized something. I need to take a strong stance. While I may never understand the events or the why, I do believe all people have choices and that not everything in life is fair.   I decided to change my attitude.

I may not be able to control events or even the thoughts that sometimes creep into my heart—the quiet longing of what I once had–, but I can change how I respond to my day to day life. People matter more than they have ever mattered to me. Relationships take time and transparency. Where once that time was not a priority, I strive to make it a priority now. Just today, a woman with whom I have had the most basic conversations with, walked into my office weeping. She trusted me enough to share that her sister had just moments before been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She trusted me because of my transparency with my journey. Where I once would have worried that perhaps I might get into trouble for taking thirty minutes with someone at work, now I would rather give that thirty minutes back by working a little later.

I have also changed in my isolationism. While I still am not very socially connected with people in my local area, I have learned that I can never be one person deep again. My girl friendships mean everything to me because I am well aware that if I live long enough there will be other unexpected body slams for me and for those I love. I want to be a friend as much as I need a friend. I have changed because I have had to change. While I do not have the same rose colored glasses on, and while I am no longer surprised by unfair events, I still do believe in the basic good of mankind and I still cling to my faith that carries me.

People wonder how I can stand firm in my faith in spite of praying daily for Phil’s safety. It is this simple. People have choices. God is not Santa Claus. I get stuck in thinking that this temporal life is all there is because I do not know what is beyond life on earth. I do know this. Eternity is longer than every breath put together here on earth. Sure, I wanted more time with Phil. Sure, I thought there would always be tomorrow, but I am thankful for the days I did have and I stand confident that all things are working for good in spite of an evil monster’s choice. I stand in expectant hope that there might be a chapter two and I stand in the quiet understanding that even if there is not, I will be okay and that perhaps I can leave the world a little better for having lived.

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