Recently someone asked me if I needed someone in my life to make my life complete. My immediate answer was "nooooooooooooooo." But if I am really going to be honest in answering the question (and honest with myself), well, that hasn't always been true. In fact, it wasn't until the last few years that I could honestly say that statement is true, because, well, because in the last year I've had the opportunity to "define" me — who I really am.
I mean since high school, I was Ken or Reggie's little sister, J.W. and Pat's daughter, Keith's wife, KaCee, Cody and Keiton's mom. But in the last year, well, I've truly come to know ME! (And FYI: I like me!) It's funny how it all happened at the same time. I mean when my husband, Keith, died, well, I lost being his wife and being a couple. We met so young, fell in love, had kids and were happy. Truly happy. And I have to admit: He encouraged me to be me. But the fact is I was still his wife and the mother of three beautiful boys. And it hit me recently when a beautiful young woman asked me not too long ago, "How do you keep your identy when you fall in love with someone so young?" Truth is that you probably don't, but if you are lucky, that person you love also loves you enough to let you be you, and so "you" are always there (albeit sometimes a shadow).
I think the problems with marrying young arise when a few years into a "young" relationship, you realize that you have only been the person that the other person wanted you to be. I was one of the lucky ones. O.K., I admit there were times in my marriage when I felt myself disappearing. I think anyone who has been married for a long time experiences that. But ultimately I still liked me, and luckily Keith still liked me. But, I know when he died, I had to adjust to being single, and it took me a year or more to realize that I was in fact a "single mom" (another label added to the many I already had!). But, with our oldest, KaCee, getting married a year after Keith's death and then my two youngest, Cody and Keiton, getting out of high school and Keiton attending Louisiana State University, and Cody finding his wings with work and a beautiful girl, well, the fact is I have spent the past year "defining" me.
And you know what? I like me! I like me the paralegal; me the poet; me the author; me the singer; me the "mimsy"; me the woman. I wrote and published my first book and have my second book ready to go to press. I love my poetry. I love that my confidence has allowed me to return to singing (albeit this time with my son instead of my husband). I cherish being a grandmother to three beautiful girls. I mean, truth is I think I am someone who loves and can be loved. I've got friends, good friends. I have admirers, and they are kind and gentle and complimentary. My life is for the most part full. And, like I told this particular person the other night, these days I manage to smile at least once a day — whether because of something I am presently experiencing or a memory that crosses my mind. Heck people, I'd say that's a pretty dang good life!
So in November when everyone was posting their "30 days of being thankful" — guess what? I didn't because the truth is I am thankful for more than 30 things in my life! Despite the sadness, the loss, I've been blessed. So thank you!