I was sitting alone under a tree. I know a rather cliche’ place to be but it was true. It was a tree I had visited many times over whenever I was feeling dark. I loved the tree with it’s massive overbearing branches that begged me to climb; its leaves so green and defined; its shade that no doubt made me feel protected and coveted when I propped my backside up against it. It was my refuge, my place to come rest and shed my thoughts or fears.
As I was saying It was another one of those days that I had all I could take and I was seeking refuge under my favorite tree again. I had been allowing circumstance and chances in my life to get the best of me and I was distraught. So I sat quietly still under my favorite tree as I always did and weeped quietly. Why quiet? I don’t know. It wasn’t as if there was anyone around for miles to even hear me, but for some reason I felt ashamed to even be crying. So quietly the tears fell upon my cheeks and I allowed them to land where they may.
Before my face was soaked a breath of wind had me gasping for air and an Angel of God appeared kneeling before me. He reached forward with his soft milky fingers and slightly touched my cheek. He lifted my chin and smiled into my eyes. I was speechless. The touch of his fingertips were soothing and caused a tremble in me that I had not recognized.
“I hear you're not happy with your life? Why is that?”
My first knee-jerk response was, “Oh no, I’m happy who told you that?” His question sent more chills down my spine. How was I supposed to answer that? I was ashamed that he was even asking. But I didn’t want him to know the real reason but somehow I think he already knew.
“So they were wrong?”
“Umm yeah. I suppose they were. I mean who's really happy all the time? I’m happy sometimes. Content. I’m good. Yeah I’m good. See?”
“I do see.”
He shook his head and stared in disbelief. If I couldn’t be honest with him there was no way I could be honest with myself. He saw this. He saw my weakness, my fumbling and tripping over my words. He saw my desperation in search of the right thing to say to him, as if my words needed to be rehearsed. The more I fumbled, the more he smiled, to which became very hard not to smile back in return.
“So I’m not happy. What else is new?” I cackled.
He sat down beside me, leaning his back against the tree like me, “Great tree. I remember when it was a seed, back in 1820.”
“It was a small seed that blew in the wind and decided to make its home on this very spot. Against all odds it prevailed and became one of the grandest in the whole universe.”
“Whole universe huh? I knew there was a reason I liked it.”
“Yes. It has been tested and has stood tall, despite all. It grew slow at first––barely rising above the ground. Then, with each breath of the wind it grew stronger and stronger. It has survived many droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes; the dust bowl of 1930, a few floods over the years, a couple of carvings, infestations; and its latest test––a young man and his axe.”
“An axe! He better not chop my tree down!” I belted.
“No worries. His little axe was no contest for this massive beast. It broke on his first swing.”
“Wheh! Good. I don’t know what I’d do if it weren’t here. It’s my favorite place to come to.”
“I know. That’s why I’m here today.” He scooted a stick around in the dirt before him drawing something unknown to me. Doodling I suppose. I watched his face which had no expression, but it was still pure and flawless. He had a wheat straw hanging out of the side of his mouth and was chewing on it quite frequently. Maybe out of boredom, or maybe just because he liked the taste of it. He was dressed in black but I really couldn’t tell if he was wearing a robe or wearing pants and a shirt. Do Angels wear clothing? The vision was oddly muddled.
But his eyes. They were blue, green, and gold with specs of amethyst in them. They sparkled and shined, burning a hole right through me when he looked into mine; breathtaking and soulful, making me feel shy; so I’d quickly turn away then be drawn right back, wanting to look deep into them again. His voice was sure and deep––the type I cling to when I hear it in a crowd. But I wondered why me? Why was he here talking to me? I am no one. I am nothing, and surely no one deserving of his presence anyway.
“Why not you?” He heard my thoughts.
“Because there are many others who must need you.”
“But you need me.”
“I’m not broken.” I snapped.
“Didn’t say you were, did you?”
“No, don’t believe I did.”
I lied. I may not have said it and I may not have admitted it but it was true. My face was dried with tears. Tears I couldn’t deny. I no longer had direction in my life. The life as I had known it had crumbled around me, and the worst part was, I allowed it to. I just didn’t know how to pick up the pieces and put it all back together. I felt hopeless.
“So you’re not broken, that’s a good thing.” he added, “But I hear you wish you had a different life. Is that true?”
“Well maybe, yeah somedays I do. Doesn’t everyone?”
“So is that someday today?”
“Yeah today really sucked.” My nervous laugh was unveiling.
“Hmm… well I tell you what I will do.” He stopped drawing his Rembrandt in the dirt and turned his attention toward me. “I will make an exception today, just for you––though I don't think you really want it––and grant what you desire." grant you that even though I don’t think you really want it and I will make an exception today, just for you.”
“What?” My head spins his direction quickly making sure I hear him right. “Another life? Like someone else’s? Whose?”
“Could be if that’s what you want.” He was watching to see my response. He sounded like it was no big deal that he could do something so miraculous––like a genie in a bottle thing––and grant me such a wish. And to tell him what life I wanted, OMG! I didn’t really know. Never really thought about it. I was just whining about the one I had; never thought that I could replace it with another. But he was offering so I needed to get on the ball and do some serious thinking and considering. Can you imagine?
“So let me see if I understand you, you will grant me another life if that’s what I want? Any life?”
“Yes. If that is your heart's desire. But…”
“Damn, I knew there was a catch.”
“There are rules to such a request.”
“Go on…I’m listening.”
“Rule number one: You can’t choose fame.”
“That’s ok. No big deal–I never wanted to be famous anyway.” Wow, I thought, I got this! Piece of cake!
“Number two: you can’t choose fortune.”
“Wait, what? Seriously? You know a lot of problems revolve around money. Are you sure I can’t win the lotto or something?”
“Hmm…” I stared in to the vast canvas before me. Why would I even think money would solve all my problems? I knew it wouldn’t. But I agree it would make my life easier. I looked back at him asking again just in case he changed his mind, “are you sure? I mean it would really help out. What would it hurt?”
“Geez, not even just a little? Maybe inheritance or something?”
His eyes pierced me, “Shall I continue?”
Ouch! “Okay okay, of course. Continue. What can be worse than not getting to choose those two?”
“Ahem!” he cleared his throat, no doubt at his frustration over my arguing. “Number three: you have to start all over.”
“Like all over as in birth all over? I’d have to go back to the days of being a child again?”
“Yes, from the very beginning.”
“What about my family?”
My heart stopped at the thought of that and all he was offering. My life as I had known it for the past forty-seven years flashed before my eyes but in no particular order like you see on a movie screen. I sat there in silence remembering the birth of my oldest son, the laughter of my little one, his frustration from before he learned how to speak, my brothers whom I adored, every picture I had taken through the eyes of my camera, my wedding day, walking down the aisle, my first kiss, my first book published and how it felt in my hands, a night in a field on the out skirts of town with a full moon overhead in the arms of my first love, dancing in the rain when I was ten, my cousin being my best friend, my first time at bat nervous, my first time on stage nervous, every flower I had touched, when all my hair was cut off due to the tangles my momma couldn’t get out with a brush what age was I, three?
I remembered quite clear a ride on a runaway mule in the middle of the night, mommas tour bus pulling up next to the sidewalk, the chaos of my family life, hours spent in a gym, the feel of my skin after a bubble bath, never learning how to swim, the funerals of loved ones, my mothers sweet smell and voice as she sang, my daddy’s precious hugs, my granny and all her glorious ways of making me feel wanted, my aunt taking great care of me, composing music with my Dad, Grandpa and his eggs, learning how to sing, followed by my dog babies giving me sweet kisses and the ones that had passed all bounced around in my head simultaneously along with a trip to six flags riding a roller coaster. My thoughts quickly jumped to how bad I hated roller coasters. Then it reminded me of all my fears. (But it didn’t stay there long.)
My my mind flashed to the tears I cried on my pillow night after night, my friends that were always there for me and the ones I couldn’t help, moments as a young woman wishing God would introduce me to someone that would love me for the rest of my life, those were all the lonely times I couldn’t get past. All the heartaches and pain I had felt over the years. They were haunting me now giving me reason to feel as if my request was warranted and rightfully to be granted. The times I spent walking streets, taking trips, hiking in the woods, getting lost in a big city, climbing a tree, or running the neighborhoods I had lived, most of those were lonely times too. I was reminded that in those times it was just you and me God. But I loved doing those things and I wondered in another life would I be able to do all those again? And would you still be there? I knew I couldn’t live without you.
In another life, sure I could be born blind, deaf, paraplegic, or many of these things combined. I could be stricken with an illness or an incurable disease. I could be born into a family that abused me or married a man that did so as well. I could be a woman whom never was able to bare a child. I agreed I was no baby maker. I remembered the two miscarriages I had, always feeling they were the girls I never got to raise. I wondered if I had, what would they look like today. Who would they be? I had a fear when I was young that if I’d had a daughter I’d mess up badly raising her. I don’t know why I felt that. Well, yes I do but that’s another story for another time and place.
All the little moments I cherished like the times I rocked my babies to sleep, stood on stage next to my oldest son, and all the bullets I shot at the range with my little Rambo son came in droves. I remembered all the toothless grins of my boys, the excitement in their voices on their birthdays and holidays or over just about anything. All the adventures we had as a family I knew we had only just begun. Those days weren’t over for us. The countless looks in their eyes when they told me their stories flashed before me, the way they hugged me when I put them to bed at night, and as they grew older the way they hugged me out of pure love and appreciation. Beyond a shadow of a doubt I knew I would have their love unconditional. It was mine there for the taking and for the rest of my life. The smiles came overwhelming me to the degree that I couldn’t keep one from spreading wide across my face now. I knew I had spent their little lives making their childhood special, giving them the childhood I never had. They were my joy! My gift from the Good Lord himself. Could I bear the thought to live a life without them? To have never had them in my life would I have been the same? And all those memories that flashed before me, what if none of those things ever happened to me? What if I was born into someone else’s family and without all those I loved dearly, who would I be today?
My answer came before the question and was quite clear. I knew only one thing for sure, I wouldn’t be me. And I can say without a doubt I felt blessed at that moment. My tears were no longer staining my cheeks in silence. I guess I just needed a reminder and a push to make the changes necessary in my life to move forward. Sometimes life happens and that’s how we grow into being the person we are today. Looking back on all the memories reminded me of just how precious and short life truly is. Is my life half over at forty-seven? I would hope not! I have so much more of life I want to live!
And something so small as saying, “I wish I had another life” made me realize, “No I don’t!”
~Olivia Gracey May 6th 12:29 pm