I've been thinking a lot lately about being 15 and a half, for obvious reasons... to remember the emotions I had then, the inside thoughts I didn't dare share with anyone, the way life seemed so hard to bear in some of those moments, the joy of feeling alive and young. How everything was a big deal. It was like watching everyone stumble around trying to figure out who they were, what they wanted to become. I want to remember so I can be better able to relate to the 15 year olds in my life. To remember what things I liked people asking me, and how I wanted to be known and drawn out. I loved knowing that someone out there thought I was so special, and how even a comment from a teacher or an adult meant so much.
Also, I've been thinking these things because it was then that my whole life turned upside down. I was exactly Erin's age when all this happened, my younger brother not even yet as old as my boy. We got the Friday afternoon phone call about "the accident". The moment all life as I had known it stopped and turned to something else, the day the lives of 4 families were forever changed, ours the only one without a funeral to attend.. not that week. I remember the waiting at the house, the pacing up and down with my little brother while Mom and my older brother had raced away to find out more news. Then a few hours later, Mom's neighbor friend coming to the door to be with us, til they returned. She obviously knew something I didn't.
Life events change you, suffering makes you rely on Someone bigger than yourself, but when these things happen as a teen, there's something more indelible imprinted on the way your mind is still growing up that seems to make huge life events as a teenager seem so much more huge, than if they happened as an adult. Like a big rubber stamp crushes your heart and takes the breath away, and it takes so much retraining of the mind for your heart to pump back to full size again.
I see Rick Hansen a lot these days because his daughter plays U-16 volleyball and it always brings me back. To the day he met my Dad on his tour and to encourage him for a moment, yet not really, because he still had his hands, his big muscly arms. To all those hours beside the hospital bed, to all those days of every breath maybe being the last because breathing wasn't even his own for sometime. All the burdens my Mom carried that I didn't know about because we still had to go to school and try to live normal life on one hand and life out of control on the other side. And I remember the Christmas my little brother bought "hands" for Daddy, and the first day, after more than 3 years in acute care, that he came home for an afternoon.
So indelible... printed on my heart. The very reasons I turned from my life long desire to teach, to becoming a nurse.
How could a crush, or a silly fight with girlfriends, or the stress of a science exam, or the worry about your future fit onto the backdrop of so much trauma? And yet, all these things are vital for our teenagers now, they are big things for them, the world is right before them staring them down like a blizzard choking out the wind.
So I realized one thing this weekend. One of the reasons I am so loving everything, well almost everything, about having teenagers, is that I missed some of it. Life is so fun and full and anxiety- enducing and open to opportunities, and I want for mine to embrace each one! To not have to grow up quite yet. Even though Erin was always older and wiser than her age, she can stay young and play for awhile longer. And it's her life to live, so I'll try to watch and enjoy it through her, and keep my controlling tendencies to the side. And my heart aches for girls who don't have a Dad who walks through the threshold of their front door for all of high school, emotionally or physically. At least I know my Dad wanted to, but what about those Dads who don't even know what they are missing? The beauty they aren't seeing in their own ones. I want to see each irresistible drop of that!!