#reality check


Once upon a time, I was a flirty, social butterfly. Yeah, I can hardly picture it either. But back in the day, Saturday nights rarely found me at home. In that seemingly ancient time, I was post-nesting mama of three — and pre-married again. Happy wanderlust and a dancing queen persona was the fallout of sudden singlehood and ended when a really neat guy succeeded in, once again, getting me to the altar. When your nearly perfect match shows up with love as a big as an ocean liner, you say yes – and never look back.

But in a way, I was back – into the world of couple dinners, grandparental team babysitting nights, movies for four and parties for many and I was more than happy. I never really was the blithe divorcee anyway. (‘blithe’…seriously?) I had returned to where I began, peacefully curled up with hubby at home. And I was content.

That’s not to say I didn’t yearn for a night alone sometimes. Oh, there were dinners with a girlfriend or an adult ed class but I admit I did look forward to the occasional business trip that left me solo for a night or two. Having our own business, I could probably count on one hand when that actually happened. Don’t get me wrong; I loved my guy madly and when he was AWOL for a night, I missed him next to me. Still, those few nights I was a loner I ate what he hated, coveted the remote and happily watched chick flicks. Now every night is single night and whatever enthusiasm it used to hold, left the building when he did. They always say, ‘be careful what you pray for….’ Duh.

These days, unless you count babysitting (or gramma playdates), flag football games or movies with gal pals, weekends fly by the seat of their pants. Sure my tribe of friends still tempt with invites, including my couple pals who were happy I had a permanent plus one again they could love and include. Now I’m minus one and no longer neatly fit in the foursome scene. But, I suspect I’m the one who doesn’t fit.

I have a lot of time to think these days and I can’t help but wonder what I would be doing right now today if I hadn’t met the stalwart, crazy guy I married. I probably would have continued my merry way none the wiser; certainly without the broken heart the death of a spouse brings. I also would never have experienced the exquisite fullness of life, the care for another so acute even now I can feel its vibration nor would I know the unique happiness we wove together. No matter how broken we are by the loss of someone we loved, no matter how layered the relationship, the thought that we might have missed the chance is unthinkable. Trisha Yearwood expressed it well (warned you I’m a lyrics freak) when she sang:

If I would’ve known the way that this would end
If I would’ve read the last page first
If I would’ve had the strength to walk away
If I would’ve known how this would hurt

I would’ve loved you anyway
I’d do it all the same
Not a second I would change
Not a touch that I would trade
Had I known my heart would break
I’d have loved you anyway

Like so many things in life, we wonder if we had it to do over again – would we? Would we take that job, knowing it would play havoc with our family life or pride? Would we make that person our best friend knowing they’d move clear across the country? Would we want to have children knowing we’d pull our hair out with worry every single day? I suspect the answer would be be ‘yes’. It would always be yes because we wouldn’t be who we are without every experience in our lives, everything that made us happy, made us cry or made us grieve. Like it or not, grief is the flip side of joy.

There will always be days when we say, ‘this can’t be my life’. But when reality smacks us upside the head, we realize, um, yes, it is. Some say ‘reality is a lovely place but I wouldn’t want to live there’. Unfortunately, you do — and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.  You’re squarely in the middle of your real life. Yippee. But, that’s not so bad; in fact sometime reality can surprise you with joy and I’d wager it has many times. So, settle in, weed your space of negativity, make it as comfy as you can and feel free to decorate freely with your dreams.

After all, as John Lennon said, ‘Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.’

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