All the “What ifs”

Tis the season to be busy, experience scheduling nightmares, excitement for the holidays, stress of family, and for me, lots of reflection. Do you ever do that? Maybe you watch a movie or read a book or hear a song, and for a period of time afterwards you just sort of get lost in your thoughts reflecting on your life.

I think I do more reflecting on my life during this time of year than any other. It’s strange how just one movie, experience, or conversation can make one contemplative. It’s not like I have a lot of time to just sit around and truly listen to my own thoughts. I just received word today that I can finally resubmit my dissertation to my AQR reviewer. I also now know that my entire team believes I should be able to defend before the end of the year. YAY!! My academic advisor said I absolutely have to defend by January 12th and have my D-80 (the last form) signed off by February 24th in order to walk in the commencement ceremony in April. There are so many people making plans of travel and visiting and vacation time…I can’t let them down. More importantly, I don’t want to let myself down. I’ve worked SO hard and put so much pressure on myself to finish, on time, without going into extension classes, and without putting us into more debt. I just refuse to give up on this dream now.

I shared my draft with my boss on Friday. She agreed to read over it for grammar and structural issues, but first, I asked her to read my acknowledgements page so that I could see her face. You see, I mention her on that page (among others) and thank her for believing in me and pushing me to be great. I can’t wait for my husband to read my dedication page! It’s sort of like my reward after I defend. I want to see his face when he reads it and celebrate our success together.

See that’s the thing. This whole journey isn’t just mine. I mean yeah I put in all the work in the courses and in writing my dissertation, but I just couldn’t do it without him. The days he took the kids to the park, cooked dinner, pushed me to work at home even while we were watching a movie together…all of it made this possible. Which leads me to my most recent reflection…what if…

What if I had never gotten up the courage to file for divorce? What if I had never gone to my sister’s house for lunch that day? What if I had never driven to Camp Blanding or agreed to meet for breakfast? What if I hadn’t let my guard down and let myself fall in love again. What if I had never learned to forgive and trust again? What if I had met him first? What if, what if, what if…

I gues it’s sort of like that movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. There is truly no way to know what life could have been like if just one decision had been different. BUT…I do know I wouldn’t have the amazing life I have right now without every single one of those decisions. I learned so much of what NOT to do from my 1st marriage, and all of those lessons make me a much better wife now. I have been through so much heartache, pain, loss, and separation that I know what is truly important in life, and it’s not the stuff or material nonsense. I also know that makes shopping for me a challenge to say the least. Making lists of what I want is my absolute LEAST favorite thing to do. I think it’s mostly because what I really want are things like date nights, vacations (really not too picky on that one: cruises, anything outside this country, anything in the mountains, Key West, yeah pretty much anything anywhere), romantic letters, even simply seeing that look of pure love that my husband gets on his face every now and then. I just can’t imagine anything being a better gift.

I think in all of my reflection and thinking, I always come back to the same conclusion: I have a great life. I love with every fiber of my being, and I am loved fully. Every time my husband looks across a crowded room at me with that look that lets me know he only has eyes for me. Every time he reaches for me. Every time I see and feel the love in his eyes and his smile. Every time his dimples light up his face and he laughs at something I’ve said. Every time he pulls me into his arms and looks at me with such adoration. I feel all the butterflies and my heart races. To be loved the way he loves me…there almost no words. I am truly blessed, and I can only hope I make him feel as loved. Yep, I really do have a great life.

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