My husband’s terminal cancer diagnosis kicked off the season. We followed the doctor’s “You better take this vacation while you still can” prescription, a family fiasco instead of fun in Alaska. Upon our return I oversaw the renovation of a century old building for our law office, during which a fiber optic cable punctured our sewer line creating a giant messy pit. By August I found myself on the hilly slope of a college campus giving a gut wrenching farewell to my youngest who at 15 would now live in a dormitory over a thousand miles away from me at a time when both teens and parents lived every day without cell phones.
The summer of 2000 felt so big that all I could manage was to focus on what was essential for each day and how to be kind to those I love. Only with years of reflection am I now able to appreciate the countless gifts of that terrible time.
I appreciate that I see I focused on what mattered most to me. My family. My law firm. My future.
I appreciate the crash course in “staying in the present moment” even though at the time I had felt I had no choice.
I appreciate my experience of the power of friendship. My childhood buddy, Aaron, was my contractor who held my hand through every step of that renovation project. This summer, he’s doing the same for my law partner, Angela, as she renovates her 123 year old building immediately next door, leading the expansion of our growing firm.
I appreciate that the Alaskan adventure with three disgruntled teens at Denali National Park gave our family tales and laughs that endure to this day, including a recent suggestion that we have an “Alaskan Do-over” vacation.
I appreciate my courage to release my frightened child to the east coast elite academics. He went on to graduate from Harvard Law School with honors.
It was the first week of August when our firm moved its offices to our beautiful space with Lady Justice posing in the window, a century old ceiling above our heads, and a hope for our future in our hearts. Our current expansion is that hope fulfilled.
I survived that summer. Seeing that helped me see I was capable of surviving many things. Eleven years later when August came and John was on the brink of death, I knew that I would survive that, too. And I have.
When you experience the season of divorce, the weight of it all can be so crushing that we doubt our own survival. You may have a season that you look back upon to remind yourself of your resilience. But if this is the season that is the worst you have ever known, I promise you that you can survive it, that it will leave you with gifts, and that one day you will be able to say what I say to myself today: Happy Anniversary.