Living Happily Ever After


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Multiples “Personalities,” One Man

“I have so many different personalities in me and I still feel lonely.” (Tori Amos)

My marriage has an interesting aspect to it. Different from anything I never expected. Brought to me courtesy of my husband, of course.

My husband is a full-time businessman and a part-time actor. (Need I say more?) To a small degree, it’s like living with several different people, or at the very least, someone with more than one personality—although in my husband’s case, thank goodness, it’s always the same kind, patient, loving, fun man and great father underneath whatever the outside happens to look like on any given day!

The other day he left for work an “ordinary” businessman (but with a strong resemblance to Mitt Romney, if comments from family, friends, strangers and Facebook are to be believed!) and before he returned home, again an ordinary businessman, he’d been an airplane pilot for a few hours for a video shoot and a rancher for a commercial audition.

Lederhosen aside, it makes for some exciting experiences, unique adventures and memorable days…as well as for some unforgettable memories. Like the night we stood together, at our bathroom sink, both of us removing our make-up! Or the night I was struck by how great his tan legs legs looked, assumed he’d hit the tanning bed he occasionally visits, only to discover no, it was leg makeup from a Youtube video he’d appeared in wearing a tunic earlier that day (don’t ask! haha.) Although it does take a certain degree of confidence, as a woman, to be married to a man who seems to know more about and to be better at applying the fine art of…makeup!

It certainly keeps life interesting. My thanks to Mr. Ramsey for the many entertaining moments that are now mine.

“Of course life is bizarre, the more bizarre it gets, the more interesting it is. The only way to approach it is to make yourself some popcorn and enjoy the show.” (Unknown)


“When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.” (Barbara Bush)

In conjunction with my Las Vegas business trip, I was asked to speak at our corporate event there regarding the philanthropic effort of our company (one of the areas I manage.)

Service is something I’ve always been passionate about, particularly since there were moments upon entering my unexpected life I wasn’t sure how my children and I would have survived without a little help from our friends (and even some strangers) who delivered food to us, made meals for us, gave us cash, sent gift cards, left a thoughtful treats on the porch, wrote notes of encouragement, smiled at us (when it felt like nobody was), made my first Mother’s Day post-Ponzi scheme not just bearable but beautiful and joyful, tended my children while I attended to the details of wrapping up a life…I can’t even list all the ways we were blessed by (and continue to be blessed) by service from others!

For that and many reasons, I was happy to do it and was grateful for the opportunity to talk about making a difference in the world. I am certainly the grateful beneficiary of so many people who have had an influence for good in my life.

I was thankful to do it, that is, until they announced my name, I walked out into the glare of the lights, on stage…and faced over 4,000 people! That’s a pretty big crowd. I don’t think I’d ever spoken to more than a crowd of 1,200 or so people prior to that in my life! Whew! In moments like that, it’s nice to have a monitor prompting you (reminding you) what you had planned to say before your mind went blank at the sight of so many people.

However, despite the emptiness of thought I temporarily experienced, I did have the presence of mind to think this, like I have so many times: “If someone had told me in 2009 that THIS was an experience that would be coming to me just a few years later and courtesy of my unexpected life, I’d never have believed them! Like the Ponzi scheme my former husband perpetrated, I never saw it coming.”

There is a LOT of good in my new life. SO MUCH happiness and joy. So many unexpected opportunities I’d never have had. Tender mercies I’d never have known. Things I may never have learned and certainly things I’d never have known I was capable of surviving, much less doing and accomplishing. I realized something:

I’m grateful for the detours.

“…Believe in your destiny; that you will succeed, you will meet a lot of rejection and it is not always a straight path, there will be detours – so enjoy the view.” (Michael York)

It’s a pretty nice view in the unexpected life. How’s yours?

Over And Over And Over Again

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” (Michael Jordan)

I love this quote. I’ve raised my kids on it. It’s a reality in my life, as well as Michael Jordan’s. Because every life, especially the unexpected one, is comprised of more than its fair share of misses, losses and failures.

We each fail, in one way or another, over and over and over again in our lives; all of our lives.

So what do you do?

I think it’s what you choose to do with all of that failure that counts.

When we choose to keep rising from the ashes of failure and defeat, devastation and destruction, grief and pain and loss, THAT is success. And that “one more try, one last time” is very often the moment when success (finally!) comes.

And when we learn to find happiness and joy amidst it all, failure or success, THAT is when we have it made!

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” (Winston Churchill)


“Remember God’s bounty in the year. String the pearls of His favor. Hide the dark parts, except so far as they are breaking out in the light! Give this one day to thanks, to joy, to gratitude!” (Henry Ward Beecher)

Last year, at this time, I felt so alone. I tried not to, but there was no disguising the emptiness attendant with the shock of being thrust into a life you don’t feel prepared for.

Last Thanksgiving, the first of my unexpected life, made me apprehensive. It was our first–in our new home, in a new state, we didn’t know many people yet, we were still reeling from the shock of so much change that had taken place so quickly, it was my first as a single mother and…it was the year all of my siblings were scheduled to spend the holiday with their in-laws.

A good friend (“family,” to me and my children) invited us to share the day with her family in Utah. They could not have been more gracious to us. They all made us feel so welcome, we didn’t even feel like guests! And instead of the hard day I’d feared (we had a lot of those back then) my children ended the day saying it was their best Thanksgiving ever.

What a difference one year makes. This year, I couldn’t feel less alone.

I will be sharing the day with my siblings and their families in the little town of our heritage, Ephraim, Utah. Bachelor #5, his family and his mom will be joining us. My birth mom also invited us to have dinner with her. If you’d have told me last year, at this time, that in just one year’s time I’d have more family and loved ones to celebrate with than I could work into one day, I’d have laughed in your face. Yet here I am–juggling time with many loved ones!

I would have to write a novel if I tried to record the bounty in this year; or string the pearls of the many blessings I’ve received in 2010. There haven’t been many dark days, just a whole lot of light! How grateful I am to give this day to thanks, joy and gratitude of which I have much. What a relief!

So if you happen to be in the throes of your unexpected life, if this day is one of your “firsts,” know that you are going to make it and that next year, there will be even more to be thankful for. I guarantee it.

You may even be amazed, as I have been, at the bounty that can come out of such devastation, destruction, grief and challenge.

That pretty much sums up my unexpected life…today. It says it all.

Oh wait. One more thing.

“Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants.” (Kevin James)

Gotta Keep Your Feet Moving

I’ve felt a kinship with Arnold Schwarzenegger for quite some time. Since the early 1990s, to be exact.

It began years ago. I was in downtown Denver, at an Eddie Bauer store, looking at a jacket.  A well-meaning young, male salesclerk approached and told me I should buy that jacket, that “The Arnold” was in town and had tried it on just hours before. (Hint: Never tell a woman THAT if you want to make a sale!) Needless to say, I left the jacket as it hung. But knowing I had touched something Arnold Schwarzenegger had, bonded us. At least from my perspective.

So I don’t take his wisdom lightly. Here’s some:

“What we face may look insurmountable. But I learned something from all those years of training and competing. I learned something from all those sets and reps when I didn’t think I could lift another ounce of weight. What I learned is that we are always stronger than we know.” (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

Isn’t that the truth?

When I was 9 years old, my best friend Rachel Cox, got it in her mind that we were going to walk 20 miles together and raise money in a March of Dimes walkathon. I got on my bicycle and pedaled all over the rural roads of Grand Jct., CO, asking strangers to sponsor me in my walk.

Things were safer in the 70s, but still not without their hazzards.

At one house, a giant and ferocious dog chased me down the driveway. I screamed and ran, panic stricken and crying. Thankfully, the homeowner came, rescued me, and sponsored me–probably feeling bad for the little girl with the racing heart, bawling in the driveway.

I survived the sponsorship part of the walkathon. Finally the day came to walk 20 miles.

My parents were out of town. They told me (later, and for the rest of my life) they figured I’d walk a mile or two and go home so they didn’t change their travel plan and just arranged a ride for me to the starting point where I met my friend. I was completely unprepared for the walk by today’s standards. I wore normal school clothes, Keds, I didn’t bring any water or food (kids don’t always plan for the essentials–they’d never even crossed my mind, actually), I didn’t have sunscreen, and while most walkers had adult supervision, Rachel and I were on our own.

At mile one, Rachel quit. For some reason, I carried on alone. (I was pretty shy back then, to this day I’m not sure how I dared continue on by myself.) It may have had something to do with the fact that I wasn’t tired, or maybe I was motivated by the pictures of the poster children I was trying to help, or maybe it was all I’d gone through getting sponsors–not just the dog attack, but even talking to people I didn’t know and asking them to help me; I hated that part of it! Or maybe I just wanted to see if I could do it.

So I kept walking.

I didn’t really know what I was doing or where I was going, but I followed the way marked by cardboard arrows, got my card stamped at each mile’s checkpoint, and watched the stream of walkers lessen until I was mostly alone and felt even more alone knowing my parents were out of town. I wasn’t always sure where to go. Thankfully, I didn’t get lost. I felt a little like I was blazing my own trail and I was a little afraid, but I carried on most of the day.

By late afternoon, an unfortunate thing happened. The walkathon route went right past my neighborhood–just before mile 18–and I gave in to the lure and safety of home. I detoured through Paradise Hills to my house and quit, without even getting my card stamped at mile 18 and getting credit for that last mile I walked.

My feet were killing me.

My house was quiet.

But I had accomplished something.

When my parents arrived home that evening and found out what I had achieved all by myself, they were dumbfounded. They took me to dinner to celebrate–my dad carried me to and from the car and into the restaurant so I wouldn’t have to walk any more that day. They told everyone what I had done.

The prospect of walking 20 miles, by myself, in the 4th grade seemed incomprehensible. But I learned something that day. When I thought I couldn’t go the distance, I did. When I was alone, and afraid, I carried on anyway. And in the end, I learned I was stronger and more capable than I’d ever imagined.

That’s sort of how last year was for me. I found myself facing a challenge so huge I didn’t know how I’d go the distance. I was alone, afraid, but I carried on anyway. There weren’t signs showing me the way this time, I had to rely on inspiration, common sense, the advice of good friends, absolute faith and sometimes, pure endurance.

And in the end, I learned I was stronger and more capable than I’d ever imagined. And I accomplished something I wasn’t always sure would be possible: a new life; happiness and joy out of the disastrous ruination and ashes of my former life.

The unexpected life is its own walkathon. But if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when your feet (and your heart) hurt, eventually you’ll accomplish something great.

“I always tell my kids if you lay down, people will step over you. But if you keep scrambling, if you keep going, someone will always, always give you a hand. Always. But you gotta keep dancing, you gotta keep your feet moving.” (Morgan Freeman)

Keep your feet moving.

The unexpected life.

The “Rich Life”

“The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings.” (David Weinbaum)

I’ve had a lot of chapters in my life close, and I’ve had some new chapters in my life begin. Here’s one I don’t think I’ve mentioned before.

While my 20 year marriage was ending in the worst possible way–I couldn’t have dreamt up all of the circumstances, not even in a nightmare, it was just so outside my realm of possibilities–my oldest was experiencing his own beginning.

He met a cute girl at a dance, developed his first crush, turned 16, went on his first date and somehow ended up with his first girlfriend. (I don’t typically advocate steady relationships for teens, but this situation proved to be a great distraction for my son from the other events in our life. Plus, I knew we were moving in a few short months.)

The girl came from a good family and was not only a good girl, a beautiful girl, and an intelligent girl but also a scrapper. (If I could have hand picked a girl for my son at that time, she would have been it.) Shortly after my son found out about his dad’s crime and pending incarceration, he worried, “No girl is going to like me now.” I have to admit, I was a bit worried about that too based on the fact that I was getting more than my fair share of animosity from some people. But he needn’t have worried.

Not one kid at his school brought up his disastrous personal situation. No one was mean to him; no one teased him. In fact, he went to a very integrated high school with students from all walks of life and that situation couldn’t have been better for him at that time. While I initially tried to prepare him for possible ostracism at school, suddenly something dawned on him and he joked, “Mom, it’s going to be ok! I just realized I’m probably not the only kid at my school with a parent in prison! I guarantee it!”

And the girl didn’t care. She got him a birthday gift and took him to a Colorado Avalanche hockey game for their first date. She was a help and a friend to my other children as well. And in between all of the fun, the girl was online defending our family from malicious comments posted in the media!

It was a little bit surreal to be living amid the devastation of my life and love while watching my teenage son begin his. He had his first crush. I had divorce unexpectedly looming on my horizon. Yet at the same time, it was fun to watch my son make a new friend, date her and experience his “first” crush. I was so happy for him, it gave us something fun to enjoy and delight in, and I confess it sparked some glimmers of hope within me that made me begin to dream that all of that might again be mine someday; that there just might be richness and joy yet to experience in my own life if I held on and didn’t give up hope.

“The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.” (Helen Keller)

There were dark valleys to traverse, darker and deeper than I’d ever imagined. But the view from the top, now, couldn’t be more wonderful.

I’m rich.

For real.

And I’m not talking about money.

In My Dreams

“In my dreams, I could be a Princess, and that’s what I was. Like most little girls, I believed nothing less than a Prince could make my dreams come true.” (Loretta Young)

A marriage proposal is a moment. In time. In life. In dreams. And that marriage proposal moment with Bachelor #5 was no different–it was one of THOSE moments. Surreal, yet very real. When the past and the present come together. Where time seems to stands still.

The man I had fallen in love with was kneeling before me, proposing marriage, and this is what I was thinking:

“Is this REALLY happening?”

“Oh my gosh! THIS is a moment.”

“Focus, Andrea. You have to hear and remember everything he says!”

“My memory is terrible–how am I going to do that?”

“I have to remember this, I have to try to remember this moment, and this feeling, for the rest of my life.”

“Wait a second…what did he just say? That was really good, I HAVE to remember that!”

“Oh no! I can’t remember what he first said. I have to remember everything!”

My thoughts were racing. And then they turned to these:

“In one moment everything I loved, treasured, had known and held on to had been ripped out of my grasp; my entire existence devastated and destroyed. Words cannot express (although I’ve tried!) the depth of pain, grief, shock, sadness and betrayal that were mine in a single moment. Yet just 13 months later, although I’ve been absolutely convinced no one would ever want an ‘old bag’ like me again, that I was destined to remain alone for the rest of my existence, that my children would remain ‘fatherless’ and without male influence during the formative years of their childhood, my entire world is on the brink of near complete and total restoration. Words also cannot express the joy, exhilaration, depth of healing, happiness, and trust in something new–new hopes, new dreams, this new man, a new life, a new future and new possibilities–that are mine again. How can this be?”

In that moment I was overwhelmed by all that I had lost, by all that I had gone through, by all that I had learned, and also by gratitude for all that was now mine. I was so overwhelmed by all of that, tears rolled down my cheeks.

I think that’s one essential part of fairy tales that The Brothers Grimm and The Disney Corporation leave out of their stories. I bet those princesses cry when they realize that despite everything they’ve lost and have gone through–despite the dark forests they’re thrust into, the poison apples they’re handed, the cinders they sweep and the floors they scrub–they are on the brink of their happily ever. How can they be anything but overwhelmed by the emotions that surface when they see there really is a chance, after all, that all of their dreams can come true? And that maybe their lives are going to, as all fairy tales do, end with the promise of happily ever after.

Yes, I bet they cry. I know I did. Because, “Being a princess isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” (Princess Diana) You’re just going to have to trust me on that one. I don’t recommend anyone find out the way I did!

So, “If you see me as just the princess then you misunderstand who I am and what I have been through. (Mariah Carey) Because all princesses are more than the sum of their miseries and the towers they’re locked in.

“I love that whole princess mentality, but I also like throwing my hair in a ponytail and just wearing jeans, going on a hike and then eating a big chili-cheeseburger.” (Jennifer Love Hewitt)

Understanding Simple Pleasures

“I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens, but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls off a string.”

It has been 18 months, to the day, since my unexpected life began. Back then, there were some dark, difficult days!

What are my days like now?

Very different from the previous two decades I lived as a married, stay at home mother who spent her days caring for her family and volunteering service in my church and community. These days I’m up early, get myself ready for work, my children ready for school and daycare, I try to get dishes unloaded from the dishwasher, dinner in the crock pot, and a load of laundry done before I drive a carpool to the elementary school, drop my youngest at daycare and commute to work–arriving at work between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., depending on the day and the traffic.

What do I think about it all?

Mostly I think how carefree I feel. When my unexpected life began, and my entire world changed so quickly, completely and unexpectedly, I doubted I’d ever feel carefree and light-hearted again. But thank goodness I was wrong.

We’ve healed. We have sweet days again. And although not every day is splendid, wonderful and exciting, we’ve been blessed with time together (now that I work outside the home, our family time is even more precious and we know it, appreciate it and try to make the most of it), an increased appreciation for one another (a result of the additional service we’ve each had to render to one another to help our little family function) and an abundance of love for one another within our family circle (our shared experiences have strengthened the bonds of our unity even more.)

An additional opportunity has been the chance we’ve had, as a family, to appreciate the simple pleasures of nature. We live five minutes from the mountains. Access to them is just right up the street from our home.

One such simple pleasure was the night Bachelor #5 took my boys up the canyon to “throw rocks.”

He came by after work and picked us up. There was a river he wanted to show the boys. When we arrived, Bachelor #5 taught the boys the simple pleasure of throwing rocks into the river. My sons were thrilled!

Bachelor #5 climbed all around the river bank, searching for the biggest rocks he could find, and then threw every giant rock he prospected into the river with a BIG SPLASH. My boys “oohed” and “ahhed” on the shore, thrilled with the splashes. It was like The Bellagio in Las Vegas, only without the beautiful opera music, instead, accompanied by the music of nature. It sounds unbelievable–because doesn’t every adult have the childhood memory of throwing rocks into water and making splashes? But I don’t think my sons had ever done anything like that before. (My former spouse excelled at showing our children the world and providing many material opportunities, but getting him to share the simple pleasures of life with us was not something he made time for very often, if at all.)

Bachelor #5 also demonstrated the simple pleasure of floating things downstream. He walked upriver from us, threw a big stick into the water, and encouraged my four-year-old to look for it floating by as the current carried it past him. It was so exciting for him to see the item traveling down the river! I don’t think the boys had ever done anything like that before, either.

Then Bachelor #5 said, “Ok! Now lets skip rocks!” He picked up a rock, threw it into the river and we all watched as it hopped and skipped on the surface of the water.

“Your turn!” he encouraged. My boys stood there, looking at him with puzzled expressions. I whispered, “I don’t think my boys have ever skipped a rock before, I don’t think they know how.”

Bachelor #5, so kind, patient and calm, looked at me with a flash of disbelief, probably wondering how my boys had missed these simple pleasures of life, but just as quickly, he turned and taught my sons to skip rocks on the water.
Then they all went back to throwing boulders into the water.

As I watched Bachelor #5 patiently carry rocks and help the boys throw them, and my boys dancing in excitement on the shore, I had to look away. So no one would see my unexpected reaction. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I watched my sons, traumatized way too early in their young lives, happily playing, learning new things and having an adventure enjoying a simple pleasure on a river bank–with a man. (I don’t know if all single mothers are like me, but I am almost desperate for my children, especially my sons, to be able to spend time with men so they will have male influence in their lives.)

I am so thankful for the simple pleasures that are ours to enjoy. We lost a lot entering our unexpected life, but we never lost each other OR the simple things that are free, all around us, in nature. And we ended up moving right to them.

Despite the challenging circumstances of our unexpected life and all we’d had to pass through to get to it, I realized that my children finally have everything I always wanted for them. I have something I always wanted to have too, something REAL.

I may not have found a diamond ring yet, but we were stringing the strand of our life with the pearls of simple pleasures, every day.

“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.” (Leonardo da Vinci)

We owe a lot to our unexpected life. We have sweet days, simple pleasures and the noblest pleasure of all: understanding. Perspective. Appreciation. And a depth I doubt we could have acquired any other way.

The Unexpected Life.

To Forgive, Divine

Life is an interesting experience. A ride, complete with highs and lows, ups and downs, totally unplanned derailments, and the occasional unexpected events that force you to change to a completely different ride!

It’s interesting that sometimes we struggle to let go of the old ride, we resist enjoying the new ride we’re blessed with, and we can have a VERY hard time forgiving the people who forced us to leave the old ride we were enjoying.

I have to take a break from blogging my story to share some thoughts on an important concept that has made peace, happiness, joy and moving on possible in the new and unexpected ride of my life. My thoughts are on this: Forgiveness.

Sometimes it feels like it’s in short supply. And as hard as it might be in some instances, it is necessary to forgive others if you truly want to be able to live, or create a life of happiness and joy, especially after unexpected adversity comes. There is no other way. We have to let go, and we HAVE to forgive.

But don’t take my word for it. Take an expert’s. Listen to C. S. Lewis.

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the 20th century and probably the most influential Christian writer of his day. He wrote more than 30 books, and few writers have inspired more readers than he has. His works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year.

Here’s what he said that helps me: “When it comes to a question of our forgiving other people…forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or no bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. (This doesn’t mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart–every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.” (Virtue and Vice, page 22)

“I said…that chastity was the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. But I am not sure I was right. I believe there is one even more unpopular. It is laid down in the Christian rule, ‘Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself.’ Because in Christian morals ‘thy neighbor’ includes ‘thy enemy,’ and so we come up against this terrible duty of forgiving our enemies. Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive, as we had during the war. And then, to mention the subject at all is to be greeted with howls of anger. It is not that people think this too high and difficult a virtue: it is that they think it hateful and contemptible. ‘That sort of talk makes them sick,’ they say. And half of you already want to ask me, ‘I wonder how you’d feel about forgiving the Gestapo if you were a Pole or a Jew?’ So do I. I wonder very much…I am not trying to tell you…what I could do…I am telling you what Christianity is. I did not invent it. And there, right in the middle of it, I find ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.’ There is no slightest suggestion that we are offered forgiveness on any other terms. It is made perfectly clear that if we do not forgive we shall not be forgiven. There are no two ways about it.”

As we forgive, especially as we let go in very trying and difficult circumstances, when we rise above the lies, betrayals, greed, crimes, selfishness of others who have hurt us, and any other “bad” thing that happens to us, we are on our way to becoming what we must: better people; better for the experience; better prepared for that which is to come.

As we forgive, it is probably only then that we learn how to truly live.

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In the spring of 2009, after I entered the beginning phase of my unexpected life but before my divorce was final and I moved to Utah, my oldest came to me and invited me to go for a drive with him.

It was dark, late at night, but you never turn down an opportunity to spend time with your children. Especially at their invitation. Especially living through what we were living through. We were all we had.

We got in the car, he drove, and he headed away from the city lights toward the rural areas near our neighborhood. Pretty soon he spoke. “Mom,” he asked. “Do you WANT to move to Utah?”

Clearly, the move was on his mind and I couldn’t blame him. He was one of the few kids today who had lived in the same house, with the same schools and friends, never moving, everything the same, since he was eight months old. And now we were moving to begin a completely new life his junior year of high school in another state. Not quite the ideal time for such change. But then again, is there ever an ideal time to lose your entire life and everything you have ever known? At barely 16 years old?

How did I answer that?

With the truth.

I told him I’d been a Colorado resident since 1974 and had lived in the Denver area, with the same phone number, for 20 years. The only time I had left Colorado since then was to attend college, and even then, I loaded the moving van THE DAY I graduated from college and returned to Colorado. I reminded him I had built my entire adult life in Denver and living in Colorado was all I had ever really known. Most of my friends were in Colorado. Would I choose to leave all of that? Would I willingly do it if I didn’t HAVE to?


But the job I desperately needed and had been hired to do (and was grateful for) was in Utah. Try as I had to stay in Colorado, everything had worked out for a new life in Utah. I had come to realize and accept that. I truly FELT that Utah was where we were supposed to go, for some reason.

My son looked at me with a shocked expression. (I guess I hadn’t complained enough about all of the changes and the move because he hadn’t realized the move might be hard for me too.) But it seemed to help him to know that the move was difficult for me too.

Kindred spirits in our grief.

So we made the move. It would be less than truthful if I didn’t admit IT WAS HARD. There were moments I wondered if my oldest would be scarred for life from the experience. It terrified me when I’d make the last round through the house late at night, before I went to bed, and I wouldn’t find him in bed. (That happened several times.) In a panic, I’d search the entire house and not find him. And then I’d eventually discover him outside, in the dark of the warm summer night, on the front lawn sobbing his grief.

It killed me. I couldn’t help but join him. All I could say through my tears was, “I’m sorry. I am SO SORRY that this is the life I have given you. I wanted more for you. You deserve more. But I promise you, I am here for you and will do anything I can to help you. Someday it will be all right.”

But inside I wondered how it, and he (and if I’m being totally honest, me, too) would ever be all right.

We endured the slow start to adjusting and making friends in a new state. We endured all that switching high schools entailed. It was hard for him to let go of his old life. Not the money–the life, the friends, the place he lived, the activities he participated in, everything BUT the money, actually. He felt as if he had lost everything.

In a way, I guess it was good for me. At the time I was so sick with worry about my children and helping them get through their experiences, I couldn’t really even take a moment to think about myself. I had to focus my effort and energy into helping my children make the transition, and as I did, somehow I made it right along with them.

Fast forward several months. And that same son came to me and told me he liked Utah. And then one day he told me he liked his new high school better than his old one. And then he told me he was happy and felt completely normal! I knew, then, that we had arrived. And everything really would be ok. All right.

Fast forward a few more months. And last night, my son got home from work at 11 p.m. and came to check in with me. The house was quiet, everyone else was asleep, and he invited me to go for a drive. All I could think about was the last drive I remembered taking with him. In Colorado.

I must have looked surprised, maybe even hesitant, because he entreated, “Come on, mom. I haven’t seen you all day. Lets talk.” You never turn down an opportunity to spend time with your children. Especially at their invitation.

We got in the car. He drove.

He talked to me about life and his contentment, happiness and joy with all of it was evident. He asked me about my life, and I told him how good my life is, but did share one small worry with him. He stopped the car, smiled at me, put his hand on my knee, patted it, and told me it would be all right.

And it will be.

Both he, and I, know it.

We just keep driving. And eventually, everything IS all right.

Our destination? Peace, happiness and joy…in our unexpected life. All right.

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