Monday, September 24, 2012

Life Themes

Last week I visited my sister in Atlanta and while I was there, I watched a video she and my brother-in-law made for their children.  I saw their journeys through life, from toddlers through today.  I'm thinking of having a similar video done for my children, and I've wondered, what is the overall theme of my life?

 If I could come up with one word, it would be survival.  All of us are survivors in one way or another, but I think the key moments in my life are tragedies from which I've come back stronger.

The first happened when I was nineteen, an age when I never expected to face death.  It happened on a spring day.  The weather was perfect, but at the end of the afternoon a norther blew it and we lit the gas stove in our room at the sorority house.  We didn't think of shutting the window.  As I stood in front of the heater, my dress blew in, the flames caught it and billowed around my legs and, although I knew I shouldn't, I ran.  I was burned over 35 percent of my body and was hospitalized for three months.  Overcoming pain, joint stiffness and the slow process of healing made me realize that I was a pretty strong young woman--a surprise for me because I'd never thought of myself that way.

The second event that tore my life apart was my divorce from my first husband.  The worst part came beforehand--making the decision to become a single mom in a day when divorce was not anywhere near as common as it is today.  But the first day after my husband moved out, I experienced a feeling of freedom.  Again, a surprise.

The third event was, of course, watching my second husband, the love of my life, die from leukemia.  From a robust man he deteriorated to a person who looked like a concentration camp victim.  His courage during the long months of his dying taught me to be stronger than I ever thought I could be.  October will mark seven years of widowhood for me.  I've faced down a possum that invaded my bathroom, traveled alone, made decisions.  Widowhood teaches survival skills, whether you like it or not.

What's the theme of your life?  Please feel free to leave a comment--I'd really like to know.



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