By Kenneth Stepp
I woke up this morning at 5:00 am like I usually do, made coffee, sat down at my laptop and began returning emails and messages. My phone rang, it was an old friend. We spoke about several things then he said, Merry Christmas. I had to check my online calendar to confirm that was correct. It wasn’t always that way…
What happens to us? Time passes, we make decisions that take us down so many paths we were never meant to walk. Things take us into battles we were not supposed to fight. At least not alone. I was certain I’d grow old with my wife and we’d entertain our grandkids one day together. Christmas would be a huge deal to us. Today was the day I forgot Christmas.
I can remember a time when plans just happened. The holidays were there and family and fun were there as well. Every holiday had plans attached to them. They just happened naturally. When I became single again, all of that changed. This was so unexpected. It’s like a new layer of things I wasn’t expecting when my wife and I failed at forever.
I’m in a sea of singles every day. Some of us swim like we have fins and some of us are still learning to dog paddle. I meet people all the time who seem like being single is natural for them. Everything just works properly for them. Single is who they are. I wake up every day a little lost myself. I know I was created to be a partner.
The holidays are full of wonderful memories though. Memories of gifts under the tree, kids excited and running down the stairs Christmas morning, the smell of our feast Christmas afternoon. It’s funny how memories can have smells related to them. This time of year reminds me of what I’ve lost and what I search for. The life I live today is unnatural for me. Am I searching for something familiar? I think most of us are.
One great gift becoming single again has given me is amazing friends. I’ve met so many wonderful people as I dog paddle across this ocean of humans. Some have come and gone and some will always remain. As I write this my friend, David continues texting me about the days we trained together. That was over 30 years ago. He’s like a little brother to me. Obviously he’s also a forever friend.
I feel like part of something now. I am in a community of people who lost a life they thought they would always have and are now on the same journey I am on. Most are divorced, some lost the love of their life to death. All are a bit lost like me, some more than others. I had to find joy again. What I’ve learned is that joy has to be found daily. It’s never just there where I left it. So every day, I find something to be joyful about. Most days I win that.
The holidays can be a reminder of what we lost. It is to me. But they can also be a reminder of what we have and what we are building. My life today is full of friends, most, fairly new friends. What once was, is in fact gone, but I’m building a new life. This new life is different from my old one. Although different, it’s still my life. Friends have never meant more to me. Peace has never meant more either.
I guess the moral to this story is to find peace with where you are today. We’ve all lost people we never thought we would. We’ve all found we can be weaker and stronger than we ever thought possible. Today is all we have. Make the best of it. Be kind to someone today, be generous with your time talents and treasures. You may be the only smile someone sees today.