One year ago today I never would have thought I would be where I am today. Graham and I were moving from our 2,100 square foot home into a 900 square foot rental. I had lost my job and was desperately hoping I would be able to make my new graphic design business work. I was embarrassed we were moving from our beautiful home into a tiny rental but excited about the new neighborhood as well. My emotions were mixed with disappointment and hope and I just wasn't sure where my future was headed.
As we packed our belongings into boxes, sold a ton of junk on Craigslist, and cried (me, not Graham) a few random times about leaving our "forever home" (the home I thought we would raise our kids in), my life was about to change in a way I never expected. While I was too busy giving myself a pity party, God had a whole other plan in store.
Graham and I were making our millionth trip to the dump and to us it was just another day. I will never forget it. Graham was driving and we were joking about how much junk we had accumulated during our time together and how in the world we were going to fit our remaining junk in the new (tiny) house. Looking back at that moment, life was good. In fact, it was perfect. But I was too self consumed to realize it. Moments later I got a call from my mom. I talk to my mom almost every day, so when I saw her name on the caller ID, I didn't think much of it. That was until I heard the shaking in her voice. All she said was my name. After that she couldn't say much more. There was silence on her end of the phone and I started bawling not knowing what was wrong, but knowing something was VERY wrong.
Graham pulled over also not knowing what was happening as my mom tried to utter those very terrible words. I quickly found out what my mom was having such a hard time telling me. My aunt and uncle (my moms oldest brother) had just died in a gas explosion in their home just minutes earlier. While I was selfishly joking and complaining (minutes earlier) about having to move from my unnecessarily large house into a perfectly perfect rental, my aunt and uncle were sharing their last moments together not knowing that God was about to take them.
My heart sunk into a place of pain that I never knew existed. I started to hyperventilate and could barely breathe. I know not everyone might be very close to their aunts and uncles, but Madeleine and Jerry meant everything to me. I have always looked up to their grace and overwhelming love. When you meet people like them, they change your life. We had just spent Thanksgiving with them that year and I can still feel myself hugging my Uncle Jerry goodbye; thinking I would be seeing him again shortly. That same trip I helped my Aunt Madeleine cook Thanksgiving lunch and I showed her the loft Graham and I had considered moving into. They didn't seem like meaningful moments at the time, but they seem to be the ones I remember when I think about their passing. They were just such simple and happy moments.
The days to follow were devastating. The weeks to follow weren't easy either. In fact, it's taken me a year to even write about this and I still get upset as I go through everything that happened. That Thanksgiving I had taken family pictures of everyone and I still cannot look at them. But of all the pain and emotion I have experienced, I have learned something very important. Something my selfish self needs to always remember. There is so much more to life than a stupid house. Or a stupid job. Or a stupid purse that I can't afford. Or a stupid bill I have to pay. Or even a stupid argument I take part in. Because all of those things are temporary. All of those things and feelings only last for a short amount of time. I realized that although I thought my aunt and uncle would live to see Graham and I's children, that God had a different plan; a plan that none of us know or will ever know.
So many times I catch myself feeling envious of those who might have a bigger house than me, or maybe someone else has a cooler job than me, or I find myself getting self consumed or selfish with the wants and needs I thought I would have as a 26 year old. But then I try to remember that life isn't perfect. I try to remember that life is short and I need to embrace every minute of it. It's hard sometimes, I will admit, but it's something I need to constantly remind myself of. 2013 has taught me a lot and I am so thankful for all of it. I am thankful for my (as I once called it) tiny little rental. Because guess what. Not everybody has a roof over their head. Not everybody can go shopping on a Saturday just because they feel like it. Not everybody can go out to eat on a Friday night and then also on Saturday because they didn't feel like cooking. So yes, although I do get caught up in the moment at times, I quickly realize that life isn't a competition in who has the biggest house or the nicest car. Life is about loving your family and friends and trying to be a good person. I fail at times, yes, but all I can do is try.
Fast forward one year. In 2013 I can now say I've been published in two magazines, I started a new job as a web developer, I have given my blog a much needed facelift and met so many blog friends, and yes, Graham and I have decided to sign another year lease in our "little rental" that we once so despised. Life is good. But life is good because I decided it was going to be good. I have worked my butt off and tried to make things happen. Not everything has panned out like I hoped, but that's ok. Because like I said earlier, not everything has to be perfect. And I'm perfectly ok with that:)