I was driving my mom home from a daunting chemotherapy session. I was a novice at to the whole driving experience, and not fond of what chemotherapy was doing to her either. My knuckles were white on the wheel. She touched my hand and said, "You have no idea what it's like to know you may never be able to drive down a road like this and look at such beautiful trees again." I suppose I didn't.
Driving home from my cross country hotel tour today, I watched the breathtaking landscape pass me by. I thought about what she said to me as I drank up the scenery... and I thought to myself, "what a wonderful world."
My father brought a CD with this song on it home one day. He sat my younger sister and I down, and made us listen to it. I did, with the cynicism of fourteen, "That's good, dad, but it's really corny!" But I really liked it, I did, it was my duty to play the teenager. To be too cool for everything, especially emotions. And my pride kept me from ever admitting that I actually liked the song, just as it kept me from ever admitting that I actually liked the tuna casserole my mother made after the night I decided to pretend that I didn't, just to be contrary. Ah, what we put our parents through. My dad would play it, I'd sigh, perhaps I would roll my eyes, but would listen with a smile once no one was looking.

I can no longer pretend to listen to this song unmoved.
That is because I can't listen to it anymore without crying.
We played it at his funeral, along with Butterfly Kisses that he said reminded him of us. The farthest I can ever make it...is here:

I see friends shaking hands
Saying How do you do
They're really saying
I love you

Because it's my dad saying "I love you." Always.

Around me is a pool of light that bathes my plants in tranquil sunshine. A splash of orange on my wall reminds me that although my youngest daughter now designs clothing for grownups to wear down the red carpet, her paper doll dreams once fit in the palms of her nine year old hands. Yesterday I received a postcard from my oldest, she's charting volcanic activity beneath the ocean's surface, and when I think back to her childhood, I remember her telling me that she wanted to be a zookeeper, softball player, and a marine biologist when she grew up. Being job optional means that I've been able to accompany her on some of her trips. We've made new friends, tasted exotic local cuisine, been scared a time or two when things didn't go as planned, but my last vacation with the girls exceeded our highest expectations. It's visible in the taut brown skin, the sun dried curls, and shining eyes. We woke without alarm clocks, sat around eating fruit by the pool for breakfast, and collapsed in exhausted hunger on the beach for lunch. The crunch of sand was removed by spring water we had caught in our containers on our way to the beach. It also came in handy when our carrots and celery were sandy, and washed away the tang of salt that burned our berry stained mouths.

It wasn't always like this. There's no point in dwelling in the past, or bringing it with you into the future. When people ask me how I achieved the abundant radiance of today, I smile, because even though there was much heartache along the way, once I learned to that adhering to principles and discipline was better than abandoning them, and blaming others, I felt better about myself.

Knowledge is power, so I took parenting, yoga, and money management classes. I learned how to be empathetic, to nurture, to provide beautifully crafted nutritionally dense meals that are free from pesticides, preservatives, and packaging. I have conquered my perfection addiction. I discovered how to hold onto the present moments, to laugh when I was being hurt, because I know that there is safety, and security in me that others who lack peace seek. My friends have been an incredible resource over the years. It hasn't been easy, but it's mine, and no one can take what I've accomplished in the hearts of others, and my children away from me. Today my place is warm, cozy, inviting, bright, cheerful, crisp, clean, and wholesome. I didn't think it could ever be like this. I don't regret exposing the vulnerabilities of yesterday because fear was the only thing that stood between the perceived trap of then, and the courage I now have. Stop by sometime, there's food to share, and love to spare for everyone, isn't that wonderful?

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