Monday, March 14, 2016

You Never Know What They're Going to Say

Today one of my 6th graders asked me one of the strangest questions I've ever been asked by a student. It's funny because I guess this question isn't strange per se: one you'd ask your husband or wife, your parents, your best friend. But to be asked this by a 6th grader? 

The 6th grader who I'm speaking of is intelligent, thoughtful, and going places. As we were working on his fictional writing piece and talking about his organization, he dropped it on me. I was taking notes about his ideas for the future parts of his story, making sure to add a note about adding a lot of detail to "show" his readers what's happening in the story. His fingers stopped pecking at the keys on his computer, and he paused. I thought he was waiting for me to say something. I looked up, he took a breath, furrowed his eyebrows, and he asked,

 Ms. Gilbert,

I was taken off guard. I, with my own furrowed brow, stopped a second to see if anything popped into my mind. Usually I can come up with an answer to appease my students' questions and interests. This time, however, I was dumbstruck. I could not, for the life of me, think of an answer. 

For a few moments, we sat in silence. He could tell that I was thinking, and I truly was. Sure, I could spout off things that give me anxiety: flying (big-time), losing someone I love, getting seriously ill, not loving what I do, feeling the darkness of depression again, but none of these things  called out to me as my greatest fear. I decided not to spout off any old answer to my student. I looked at him and answered, "That's a good question. Let me think about that one." He nodded in understanding. 

At this moment, sitting on my couch typing this post, I honestly do not know how to answer my student's question. In years past, I would have had many answers:

Graduating college
Finding a job that I love

Starting a New Job
Being accepted for who I am 
Being respected professionally

Buying a House
My Dad Getting Diagnosed with Cancer
Losing my house
My dad dying
Living a life without my dad

My Dad Passed Away
My OCD Kicks into High Gear
My family falling apart
Not being a good fiance, sister, daughter, friend
Not keeping it together for my family
Being less than "perfect"
My dogs dying
My house catching on fire
Losing everything
Never feeling happy again
Never feeling calm or peaceful ever again

Reality kicks in--my dad is gone
Never feeling normal again
Never being "me" again
Never feeling happy again
Losing another loved one
Getting cancer

And the list could go on. Today I worry every once in awhile about some of these things. They are more like a short blip on my mind's radar and then they pass. I still struggle with knowing how to live without my dad: 

I can't call him to celebrate a new job. 
I can't call him to ask how to do my students' math homework.
I can't hear his belly laugh, beginning deep within his body.
I can't feel his hugs.
I can't hear his voice.
He couldn't walk me down the aisle. 
He will never meet my niece. 

Even though I miss my dad and always will, I know he's with me every day. I know I will see him again. I know he wants me to live the fullest life that I can. These eight years without him have passed, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly, but they have passed. I have survived. My family has survived. It wasn't easy, but we've made it through. I've made it through.

I don't think there was a moment where I chose to live life fearlessly. I honestly don't think I realized I felt this way until today at the moment when my student asked me my greatest fear. Sometimes you go through things and sometimes you go through a lot of things that change your perspective on life. And I think that mine has definitely changed. 

I know that when things happen, my life may change. Sometimes it's good and wanted, and sometimes it's unwanted change. No matter what happens, I persevere and push on. Eventually I will come out the other side. Will I be the same person? Maybe not, but it's okay. This is the run of life: things happen and I will figure out how to live the best life I can anyways. I try to be the best version of myself because that's who I am, and that's what I want my life to be. I know I have people by my side to see me through and shower me with the love I need to come out with the pieces glued back together.

I think the change happened when I realized that I can get through anything. Going through the things I have in my life helped me to see that I am strong; I am brave; I am unstoppable. I have faith, love, and strength on my side. 

I have faith that I will come through okay. I may be battered and bruised, but there's no life lived without scars. I have love that will never leave my side. True love. A lifetime of love that's going nowhere. I have strength that's tried and true. My spirit can never be broken. 

So the long and short of it: I don't have a greatest fear. When you have been through life, around, and back again, you realize that fear is nothing but an emotion meant to keep you from life. To keep you from living. To keep you from believing that no matter what, you can make it. 

Live fearlessly.

Love and happiness <3 Holly