After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand
and chaining a soul
and you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
and company doesn't always mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren't contracts and
presents aren't promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of a woman
not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow's ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting
for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn
that you really can endure
that you really are strong
and you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye you learn.

Veronica A. Shoffstall

A variation of this poem can be found under m_turner's writeup in Life Lessons.

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