I sipped my tea and looked cautiously at the woman across the room from me. We had met only a few days earlier. She was well spoken, attractive, funny and kind. I could sense in her a darkness that loomed over her and occasionally rested on her shoulders like a two ton weight no body builder would attempt to lift. She is my cousins girlfriend. Her son calls my cousin “Dad” not in the out-of-respect kind of way but from his boyhood heart. She is family. We talked about so many things, light hearted, easy. Then I broached the infamous innocent question….”What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” The darkness I sensed shadowed her eyes with her response of “I hate the holidays.” My heart sank. Without needing to ask, just the mutual shadow that I know clouds my eyes sometimes, I knew this was not an easy conversation and the past skeletons we had in our own separate lives were somewhat similar.
We all walk different paths to the same end. The only guaranteed event in life is death. How and when we arrive at that party is what we all want to decide. Life is hard. The fairy tales of our childhoods do not always include “happily ever after” in real life. What do we do then? We can choose to wallow in sorrows. We can suffer from ostrich disease (head in the sand and life isn’t really happening) Or we can rise up! We can accept the past, move on to the future and make a better life for the ones we love. It is important to the ones who stay by our sides, who love us, who wish us nothing but success to rise up. I need to be strong to achieve my “happily ever after”. For it is not in the past that shapes our futures but what we choose to learn from our pasts. I felt a kinship with this new friend in my life. We both know our pasts helped shape who we are but refuse to let the negative shape what our future will be.