“What IF?” Makes Me Smile a Little Bit.
Many years ago, we were staying at a beach condo we had rented on the Monterey dunes. It must have been Spring Break 2008, because Brittany was in 4th grade and we were there so that she could study her California Mission of choice, San Juan Bautista (or as we kept calling it San Juan the pizza).
While we were staying there I became very fascinated (okay, more like obsessed) with the family that once called this place “their vacation home.” Going up the stairs were literally hundreds of photographs in a collage style showing, sectioned by year, going back to what looked like the early 1970’s. As I walked up the stairs I could see the people getting older, people vanishing from the pictures, then more people joining the gathering of friends and family. I saw Christmas times, thanksgivings, spring breaks, etc. Toward the end years, I saw the person that started out as the young mom of the family in a wheelchair with her family gathered around her.
I was able to pick out (or so I thought) this woman’s best years. I showed my family. I am sure I drove them nuts. I just kept saying, “Look, these were this family’s best years” while pointing to somewhere in the middle. The years of happy faces, large gatherings, and many age groups. Then, (if you know me you know how I am) I started getting all sentimental. I began thinking and voicing (of course), “What if these are the best days of our lives?” This is about the time I went out and took some amazing photos of my kids flying kites on the dunes.
That condo has stuck in my mind ever since. When I look back at my life, I can pick out my “best years.” My family was complete in 2000. We had Tommy, Katrina was starting kindergarten, Brittany was a year and half, we moved to Red Bluff, our house was finished being built. It was a great year and just seemed to get better every year. I had a truly amazing life. All those years from 2000-2009 were amazing. Each year the kids got older and able to do more “Botell Family Fun” things.
So, this is where I have been so stuck. My best years are over. This has been weighing me down. It can never be what it once was. Tommy is gone. I know he is in Heaven, but that does not make me miss him any less. It does not make the holidays any easier or any other day for that matter. I have been struggling so hard with trying to go on when there is nothing in me that wants to. I have prayed about it and asked God to please help me. I do not want to be the person I am becoming, a joyless and hopeless mom, wife, and friend.
My prayer was answered, I woke up the other morning to Tom kissing me goodbye, as he does every morning, and in a half asleep state of mind I said, “What if our best days are yet to come?” I have no idea where that came from but I got up and wrote it on my bathroom mirror. It flipped a switch in my mind. What if those were the best days of my life but there are more best days to come? Yes, I know, more best days is improper grammar, but it is the best way to convey what I mean and as Tommy would say, “Doesn’t matter cuz I like the sound of it” haha. This one little change in my thought process has knocked me right out of the pity party I was having for myself; all of the sudden I felt some joy and hope.
It is Christmas time. I still have two children here on earth. I must have joy and hope. If not for me then for them. I have to keep on showing them strength, faith, and perseverance. I miss my son with every ounce of my being that is never going to change. His days here on earth were my best days, for sure, but what if I have more “best days”…..what if? Ever since I woke up with the “what if” thought we have had some amazing things happen through other people. They have brought so much joy to my family. I am still not “doing” the whole Christmas thing, but in an amazing way, a very kind person has insured the fact that my girls, Tom, and I will have a wonderful Christmas Day. Joyful things just keep coming too….
I just received a call from our pastor. He would like my family to light the advent candles this Sunday. I am honored. What if?……….
These were THE BEST days. I am hopeful that we may have more “best days” ahead. You never know…what IF?
I Love you Tommy. Merry Christmas.
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