The past couple of weeks have rocked our household. Alex had a seizure which made us question his health and fear our future. I saw the doctor and he told me there was a 20% chance I had skin cancerous cells on my back. Somewhere in the midst of all the chaos, I forgot what day and month it was, how to cook a decent meal, and how to stop and enjoy little moments like I used to.
But today, April 10th, the sky is clearing a bit. Alex's test results came back completely clean and the doctor removed questionable spots and said, "No need for the lab, nothing's happening here". And so, we're breathing a little deeper and feeling a little more normal. Of course, everyone says 'God is good' and He absolutely is, 100%, but our friend Fear is also reliable and sits quietly in our living room, I assume for a while longer.
However, somewhere in the middle of it all, I reconnected with an old high school friend (via Facebook, of course). He now lives down the street and I can't tell you how excited this makes me. The memories I have of this friend are very fond ones; high school prom (which could've sucked horribly if we didn't have each other to make fun of the crazies we were with), our choir trip to New York, hundreds of hours in musical practice, and countless nights of cleaning up drunk friends, watching movies, or joyriding with some of our favorite bands.
But there's something more to reconnecting. I was never the person who kept track of everyone on Facebook after high school. In fact, I'm the one who disappeared and erased myself from the record books. So talking to this old friend is sort of like reconnecting with Alyssa back in 2004, 2005, and 2006. It's kind of like saying 'hello' to her after much in life has changed. So much has changed that she is like an acquaintance, 'somebody that I used to know', a distant memory.
There are lots of pictures of her smiling, with her friends, at various activities, and in a cheerleader uniform (not a costume...do NOT say costume). There's a few from prom, a few from the football games, a few making weird faces, and even a few with braces (no rhyming intended). She was a ton of fun and she lived up those high school years. But now that I'm meeting her again, there are lots of things I would say to her.
1) Don't cry over that boy. Your heart is hurting and that's okay, but don't cry because you think it's your fault that he's the Biggest Jerk in the World. It's absolutely not. He'll continue to be a jerk regardless of who he's with and you'll continue to be beautiful, loveable, and wanted.
2) Don't be afraid of making the wrong decisions about your future. Sure, be cautious about big decision because they have ripple effects, but don't worry that you'll screw it up or that you'll choose the wrong place and it will be irreversible. Just take the next step. Just move forward. Life has the most amazing way of working out and leading you in the best direction. Take it easy, let go.
3) Value those friendships but don't give in to peer pressure because you're afraid you won't have those friends anymore. Be who you were made to be, but also discover who you were made to be. All of those influences and words are not who you are; they are only words. The real you lives deep inside and, once it feels confident and safe, will flourish and grow in ways you never expected.
4) Take more risks. Not like, drinking and driving risks--that will always be a bad risk. Try out for the team, do the audition, wear that skirt that isn't "in". It's these risks that will make your more confident, more secure, and happier. Sure, they'll scare the shit out of you today; your heart will pound, you'll sweat like a man, and you'll feel like every eye is on you, but that's okay. Do it and then laugh at yourself, or cry out the anxiety, or pat yourself on the back. These risks will get easier and the rewards will be great.
5) Listen to your parents and have faith. They actually do know what they're talking about because they have lived it. Once you start to grow up, the world hands you bigger and bigger plates. In an amazing way, you grow stronger because of the load you carry. All of the stuff you love about you now, you'll love even more when you get older. And you'll be handed bigger things which will make you even stronger yet. And when your parents give you a warning, listen to it. They have had their share of heartache and they only want to spare you the same. You won't be spared. But you will be glad that you had parents who loved you enough to care. And P.S., they'll love you when you don't listen and they'll love you as you grow older, but you'll continue thinking you know better, at least for a little while.
I would have a lot more to say to that girl and I'm sure ten years from now, I'll have even more to say. They say that time heals all wounds and I don't believe that's necessarily true. There are still wounds today that no amount of time will "heal", but that time has given me a new perspective on, a deeper appreciation, and a greater love for self. Some of those wounds don't need healed; sometimes it still feels good to mourn or feel the things of my past--they just help me to reconnect with the person I was, the person I am now, and the person I anticipate to be in the future.
Reconnecting with old friends is like reconnecting with self. You can’t ever possibly have it all figured out, but it feels so good to know you lived and survived it, because it gives you hope and gladness for your future.