Bright Spark

I have four children. Three of which I gave birth to in the usual manner, the first, our oldest, was delivered to me through my heart. She is my step-daughter.

Becoming a step-parent is a fairly common experience, but I found there was very little help navigating this often rocky terrain. I was lucky enough to come into B’s life when she was a toddler, and even though I was inexperienced with children and therefore painfully naive, she taught me how to parent. B was my learning ground and the lesson was love. This beautiful, engaging little tot loved me.

Her mother and I danced around each other. She wasn’t exactly thrilled about my place in B’s life, but in time, I believe, she came to see the value in it. Or maybe she just got over it and moved on. When B was a child we had the obligatory pick up and drop off sites. While we discussed the weekend’s events and future schedules, B reacted to the energy rocketing between us with agitation. Our bright spark was shining her light on our darkness.

I’m often asked about raising B in terms of discipline. After all, isn’t this her parent’s arena? Again, I took my cues from B: love and the occasion for discipline will naturally unfold. Her enthusiasm and infectious joy taught me to embrace her fully as my own. Love doesn’t have limitations.

I’ve had the opportunity to share B’s life and watch her become a beautiful young woman, and I am humbled by the experience. I try to always remember her lessons: the immediacy of what’s happening right now, enthusiasm for the odd detail often overlooked, joy for the sake of joy, an open spirit when engaging new acquaintances, love is the answer, the only answer we need.

Our bright spark infected all of us with her light.

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The Breath of Death

The other night I had an amazing dream. My husband and I traveled to Australia. Once there we discovered that wild animals roamed free and were harmless to us and each other. We then realized that everyone we knew was also there and they were getting along. Friends and family of ours who’ve had long held resentments were hugging and laughing–in fact the air was filled with their laughter. I thought, wow, Australia is a great place to visit! On top of all this camaraderie I noticed dinosaurs–T-Rex to be exact (don’t you just love dreams!). The visible breath emitting from these beasts had an unusual effect, it filled people with euphoria. Along with this was the knowledge that the breath would eventually end their lives. Everyone seemed to get this and nobody cared. There wasn’t one person who wanted to leave Australia, including me.

I know this is an unusual take on the afterlife, even for a dream. But the premise has stayed with me, so much so that it has compelled me to re-think my relationships. What if these issues we carry around are nothing more than opportunities for growth? And what if the people in our lives love us enough to collide with us, thereby making us aware of our particular issues? It’s almost as if we’re play-acting and the script goes something like this: I’m going to offend/hurt you in some particular way that gets at the heart of your issue. You in turn are going to be angry and maybe never speak to me again. I love you enough to risk your wrath. How often do we view our issues as opportunities for growth?

I can’t get the image out of my head of two dear people in my life, embracing and laughing in my dream. These same two people were at one time close friends and now will not even speak to each other. Truly a missed opportunity.