Summer 2013 - Goodbye, You Life Changer, You.

8:32 AM

This summer, I lost my Opa.
This summer, I turned 25.
This summer, I watched a person being born.
This summer, I got married.

I haven't had a succession of rites of passage so life changing and emotionally jarring since high school.

This summer rocked me hard. It changed me, made me different, and ultimately altered the way I not only see myself, but the world around me. I know that hindsight is 20/20 and I imagined to myself that someday, when I am more grown than I am today, I will remember this summer and think to myself that was the year I became an adult. The fact is though, time doesn't need to pass for me to feel that way. I already know - summer '13 changed me forever.

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. - Socrates

I've never lost anyone. I always knew it was coming, but too, I know that I will someday die. Things like that seem so far away, they might as well never come. I could only hypothesize how it would feel to lose someone, because I couldn't feel it until I felt it.

The earth quaked on June 10, 2013. I felt it. I lost the man I'd loved my entire life -- the man who'd always loved me. In an instant, I lost the way he smelled and the way his voice sounded. I lost the way it feels to sit next to him, the way he always scooched over in his reclining chair to make room for me. I lost it, because when someone is gone, no matter how concisely you remember, it is only memories.

I changed that day, and arguably, more in the days that followed. Grief makes you different. I became a girl who felt loss. I became a girl who knew that life goes on, but it goes on differently.

In July, I turned 25 and got a little dramatic about it. Sometimes I think that the reason that I am a writer is because everything is momentous to me. Maybe age ain't nothin' but a number -- but 25 felt firmly rooted in adulthood and I wasn't sure I was there yet. I was hitting a physical milestone, but my head wasn't in the game yet. Somehow though, I guess I realized that, actually, it was. Maybe that was part of the drama. I could feel myself changing, but I wasn't open to it. I didn't want to be different. I didn't want to be grown up.
But I was becoming so, because time and events change you. If you don't roll with it, you turn out like Miley Cyrus -- an adult acting like a child. And that's attractive to nobody. Nor is it respected.

So, I aged. And more importantly, I accepted that I have changed. I don't dress like I'm 18 anymore. I don't curse like I'm 18 anymore. I don't think like I'm 18 anymore. And that's right and it's good.

On August 8th, the world shook and changed again. This time, a new person came and took up a place in my heart that I didn't even know was empty. Riley was born and I saw her slip into this world, all pink and squealing and perfect.
You cannot not be changed when you see life begin. It's like magic, but then magic is all smoke and illusions-- birth is real. This little person comes to life, inhales oxygen for the first time and all you can see is potential. Her teeny-tiny little heart is beating just like mine, and somehow, she will grow up and become a person that I can only begin to imagine. She might grow up to write books or cure cancer or solve other world problems. Who knows. She could become anything and seeing that changes you.

Being a woman without children, seeing a birth changes you even more. Someday, that could be you. And there are unknown places in your heart, right freaking now, that will be filled with souls you can't even fathom yet. Maybe there's one spot, maybe there are four spots. You won't know until they're filled.

Finally....well maybe, summer's not entirely over yet...but for now, finally -- I rocked my own boat and collaboratively changed my own life when, on August 24th, I became a wife. I looked directly into my best friend's eyes and promised him forever. I promised to love him and never forget that on that day, on that beach, in front of everyone we love, I said this.is.forever. 

I took on a new title - wife - and while people told me that things don't really change much after marriage, I disagree. Marriage changes everything. I will never again entertain thoughts of what it might be like to live alone. I will never pin another "wedding idea" ever again. Break up songs will never hold the same weight. I'll never associate myself with Beyonce's "Single Ladies." Those vows are real and I made a promise to go through better and worse. I don't know yet what worse will be, but whatever it is, it's not a deal breaker. It can't be, because I promised.

I took his last name. That's an identity shaker. I didn't realize how much I associate myself with my name, until it changed. My story is different -- but thanks to a series of unusual events -- I never had a surname that was indicative of my family. It wasn't indicative of where I belonged, or even, who loved me. But then I got married and took my husband's last name and suddenly, my name tells the world exactly who I am. Really, who I am. Where I belong, who my family is and who loves me. For me, that's a life changer. I have a name that reflects my family and it's an identity indicator that I've never had before. 
****

So, summer 2013, you are quickly wasting away and melting into fall. Undoubtedly, you will show your face a couple more times, but you're on your way out. Back in January, I ruminated on the knowledge that 2013 would bring twists and turns I couldn't imagine. Pain, definitely. Joy, hopefully. You ride high, only to abruptly sink low. But then, you sink low, only to rise high. That's life. That's summertime.

You changed me.
And I will forever be grateful.

jenn ten haaf blog 2013 summer










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