A picture popped up on my Facebook memories today – my most commented-on photo of 2011. It was me and my oldest son, at the top of a ski run in Northstar, taken on this day eight years ago.
I decided to share it to my timeline with the simple caption: “8 years ago… crazy how time flies.”
But then I felt the urge to share a little more so that people would understand what that photo really means to me.
I added the comment: “Some may not realize that this picture was taken just days after our first Christmas without Chad. 6 months post-loss. We were in Reno visiting family and spent a day skiing at Northstar. At that time, I was doing anything and everything to prove to the kids, and to myself, that our lives were not ruined. Memories of that time are a blur, but I do vividly remember stepping off the chair lift and smiling for this photo. To see it pop up on my FB memories today, as I sit here pondering the fact that this decade is almost over…. Surreal.”
I don’t know why I am suddenly open to sharing more. I participate here on the Alliance of Hope forum, but other than that, I rarely share publicly about my grief. There are many new friends and acquaintances who may have never heard me say something so personal.
I think my desire to open up could be because I feel like I’m at a turning point. I don’t know exactly when, and I especially don’t know how, but I feel like I will be starting a new phase of my life soon.
The kids are growing up. I am actively trying to start dating. Within the next couple of years, I will likely have an empty nest. I’m closing out my 40s.
The fact that this turning point comes at the end of the biggest decade of change I have ever experienced; I guess that’s fitting.
This decade began with huge changes. I started my teaching career in 2010. Lost my husband in 2011. And have spent the better part of the entire decade learning to survive and trying to thrive. I’ve celebrated accomplishments and rallied from setbacks.
In many ways, I feel like I am indeed stepping off the chair lift; as if I’ve been working my way up a mountain the past eight years. Except it hasn’t been an effortless ride; spent sitting in my chair, swinging my feet, admiring the views. I’ve weathered storms that would rival a blizzard. There have been times when I felt like the chair stopped and I had to pull myself, hand over hand, up the side of the mountain.
But I’m at the top now. I know it’s not the end of the journey. But, I’m ready to ski down this run and enjoy it. I’ll have to get back on the lift again. Ascend the mountain, again and again.
But for now, I’m stepping off the lift and smiling for a photo. It’s time to look at the beautiful landscape, appreciate the people around me, and enjoy the wind in my face as I glide down the slope.