I’ve wanted to start family yearbooks for a while. But- life. I bought the scrapbooks, cute paper and travel themed stickers. I would put it together when the kids went to bed. Well, after one solid night of effort, that never happened again. You would think since I run my own website that I would be up on the latest technology. Truth is, I take awhile to adapt. I didn’t know that you could pay online companies to put books together for you. This weekend, I just received my first one—2013.
Andy and I have been married since 2009, but our first four years of marriage were defined by dental school and work. Days were made up of studying for boards and exams, 3 a.m. shifts and working after hours to chase down leads. If I made a book from those years combined, it would probably be only five pages long. So, I started with our first year as parents—the best year, our year.
We not only welcomed our first child, we also moved from the only region of the United States either of us had ever known to a land where everything was new—new scenery, new freedom, new adventures. After four years of living in a small Georgia town, we never dreamed that our date nights would be on the Las Vegas strip. We were on fire.
As I flipped through the crisp pages of our life, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad for the happy girl in the pictures. 2013 was defined by new, a new life, but 2014 would hold a death. She didn’t see it coming. You rarely do with death.
Do you see her there standing in front of the Grand Canyon? She felt on top of the world. She and her husband only had to make a short road trip to spend New Year’s Eve at one of the Seven Wonders of the World. She didn’t know that exactly one year later, December 31, 2014 her world would change forever. That was the day she gave birth to a son with Down syndrome.
That girl knew the world could be cruel. She was a crime beat reporter. She got close to tragedy, smelled it, and told its story. She just didn’t know life could be cruel to her.
Of course she would later realize she got the whole thing wrong. She didn’t understand what Down syndrome was or what it meant for her son or her family. She didn’t know that when she received the diagnosis in 2014, she had received a key. That key would unlock a new life, a new perspective. She didn’t know.
With the diagnosis, she felt as if she was experiencing the death of her son. Instead, it was a part of her that died. 2013 was the last year of her naivety. That girl thought she would post about tales of the kitchen and of travel, now she has a real story to tell—a story of trial, lessons and joy.
When I closed the book on 2013, it made me wonder—would I go back if I could? No. No, I wouldn’t. I was tempted to think maybe 2013 was frivolous. Our lives were defined by fun. Everything was about looking forward to the next adventure. But it wasn’t without meaning.
2013 was a gift. I needed that year. After four years of my husband’s intense schooling and my out-of-the-ordinary job, we needed rest. 2013 was a gift because I learned, we learned, how to really take care of each other. It was the first time we each had time to do that. Instead of measuring up who was contributing more around the house, we both saw each other, were grateful for one another. Our marriage blossomed in those pages. 2013 wasn’t shallow, instead it was a springboard, a foundation-builder for the things that would come.
When the clock struck midnight that night at the Grand Canyon and the calendar changed from 2013 to 2014, that girl didn’t know she could never go back. 2014 would make it so she could never be the person she once was. She was a girl who thought she knew a lot, but was a few short months from becoming a woman who realizes how much she doesn’t know.
I’m so thankful for that year. I’m so glad that neither of us took it for granted. I just had it wrong. I thought that was how life was always supposed to be. Maybe, one day, many moons from now, we will have a year like 2013. A year where carefree and fun will reign. Even if we are fortunate enough to experience a year like that again, it will never be like the one lived out on the pages of our new yearbook. Because I will never be the same. We will never be the same.
I’m thankful for then and even more grateful for how the then has impacted the now.
So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun. –Ecclesiastes 8:15