When I look back at this past three years in our life–the tough deployment, the rapid-fire move across the country, and then losing Noah–I can see how one might struggle to find happiness every day. I’d like to think that we Graingers can handle just about anything. But I admit that being happy is hard, flipping work for me lately.
Right now, we are in the midst of a journey. We are building a non-profit from scratch that I know with ever fiber of my being will change people’s lives and I’m so excited! I know it’s what I’ve been called to do and my husband, Gav and my tribe are behind me 100 percent. I believe in the mission. With the help of my tribe, we have refined our focus. We are confident we can deliver. But some days the fear of failure keeps me down. What if we build it and no one comes? What if our strategy is flawed? What if we aren’t cut out for this? The prospect of believing in something with your whole heart knowing it could fail is terrifying.
We are also preparing to say goodbye to this duty station and we could not be happier about moving closer to our “people.” But at the same time, we are facing a very difficult goodbye in this place where we were a family of four. I have the added challenge of saying goodbye to these mountains and hills that are part of me. I know it’s just geography, but they are in my DNA and I’m sad to leave.
For the first time, we will rejoin our military community as a family of three. I can’t predict what it will be like to be around people who have not been a part of the daily grind of our learning to live again. I’ve changed a lot in the last two years. I’m sure others have, too. I’m hopeful it will be amazing. But fear keeps me from fully believing things will work out. Will I be able to relate and reconnect? Will I be able to adapt after essentially spending time in a very insulated bubble with my tribe? What does the new me look like in our military community? How will what’s happened change how I interact with people who knew us “then?” The idea of sorting that out makes me sick to my stomach.
And then there’s the life in general. Life is so. stinking. good right now. In general, I am profoundly happy. For the first time ever, I have an ideal work/life balance. I am back home where I want to be. I am working part-time and going to school. I have no work drama. I have time to put energy and passion into The Beat Goes On Project. I have time to write. Dan is ridiculously supportive and my being home brings a certain amount of peace to our family dynamic–trust me. The three of us each have wonderful friends and are excited about our future.
Yet, fear keeps me trapped by the idea that it can come crashing down. The last time we were this excited about our future our son died and in an instant, our entire world was shattered. I live with constant worry every time Dan travels for work or when Gavin drives more than 10 feet from our house. The idea of one of them not coming home…let’s just say it’s been my experience that when life feels like too good to be true, it’s a matter of time before something horrible happens.
I have to remember what I believe. I believe that out of tragedy comes great purpose. I believe that it’s okay to change and do things differently. I believe that’s it’s okay to be happy, even when you’re also sad or scared. I believe that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
What happened to Noah has taught me that trying to control everything I’m afraid of is pointless. If something bad is going to happen, it will happen whether I want it to or not and I could very easily have my heart broken all over again. This nonprofit could fail for reasons I can’t predict. Our move to Virginia and our leaving here could be a disaster. Dan, Gavin, or anyone else I care about can be hurt or worse. I don’t kid myself into believing that because we’ve had the proverbial “worst” thing happen that we will never face another challenge. I’m a realist. Shit happens. Life. happens. It’s not for me to decide the next big, bad tragedy. But it is for me to decide how I live, now. The other day, a good friend reminded me:
Happiness is a choice.
I have a choice to be happy or let fear be my keeper. I can choose to live my best life full of purpose, love, and happiness or I can pack it in and go back to going through the motions. I choose happiness. I choose LIFE and whatever that looks like. Fear is not my keeper. Fear is normal. Fear makes me human. Fear reminds me that living my best life does not mean living an easy life. I will not give in to my fear. I will not be afraid to walk the path that is harder. I will not be afraid of my purpose. I will not be let fear keep me from being happy. I will not be afraid of change. I will not be afraid to return to the fold of our community. I will not be afraid to fail.
Noah, I thought about you today–about your fearlessness. As you got older, you stopped being afraid of being you. You were fearlessly happy. You knew what you wanted. You chased it. You lived it. You put your heart and soul into what made you happy. I promise you that I will do the same. I promise you that I choose happy. I miss you, baby. Until next time. ~Ma