It’s that day again when my memories of my daughter, Cora, take center stage. The more time passes the easier the day becomes, but I still don’t like it and I don’t expect I ever will. It forces me to be reflective. That’s hard to do, I’ve found. The best time to be reflective is when it happens on accident or unexpectedly.
I remember being reflective one time after shooting a nice buck. That’s the best kind of reflective – spontaneous and joyful. There was also the time I was reflective right after my son Sam was born. We were still at the hospital and both of us were itching to go hunting. Obviously, being less than twenty-four hours old made him a few days too young to go hunting, so we sat on the hospital bed together and perused camouflage gear online that might fit a newborn. Once the perusing was complete, we reflected for some time upon which set of camo would be the best fit for him. Two days later his first set of camo clothes were delivered to our door. He was beyond excited.
Taking the time to reflect allows you the time to grow as a person. Take my German shepherd, Rayna, for example. Every time it snows, even just a little bit, I reflect on her inability to control her canine desires for devouring snow. She lives only for the moment. As soon as the door is opened after a fresh snowfall, she plows open-mouthed through the fresh snow and scoops it up as though her life depends on it. When I use the snow blower, she follows beside me and tries to catch it all in her mouth as it comes out of the chute. When blowing a wet, heavy snow I might as well shove a garden hose down her mouth and turn it on full blast.
Why is that a big deal? Imagine filling a pint size water balloon with 350 gallons of water that leaks under high amounts of pressure for the next four hours. In Rayna’s case, her internal balloon leaks out of two ends, not just one. This, of course, is extremely aggravating for me, but not for her because she only lives for the moment and doesn’t worry about the repercussions of her actions. I reflect on that often, especially after a fresh snowfall, and I envy her ability to forget the past and not worry about the future.
Sometimes I confuse reflecting for worrying, so I intentionally avoid it. Usually I worry in the middle of the night when I wake up and there is little else to distract me. My mind wanders and I lay awake worrying about the future. I stop reflecting on the goodness of God and worry if I am strong enough or smart enough to take care of my own future. It’s easy to recognize the faults in your life, it’s another thing to let go of them.
I’ve been reflecting on that lately but mostly on accident. Before Cora became a part of our life I used to think that life was like a puzzle; that all the pieces of our lives fit together in some way and it’s up to each of us to figure out how that is. I didn’t intentionally think that, I think I just subconsciously believed it to be true because I’d never had my puzzle pieces ripped apart. It’s only after your life is changed that you realize it’s not a puzzle. If it were, the pieces would all fit back together as they did before. But they don’t. Some of the pieces are missing.
It was Forrest Gump’s mother that said, “Life was like a box a chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” That’s another fun saying people like to quote, but I’m not sure I like that one either. A box of chocolates is supposed to be a treat and the surprises all pleasant ones (except the ones filled with coconut – disgusting stuff). But life isn’t always full of pleasant surprises.
So if life isn’t a puzzle or box of chocolates then what is it? To be honest, I’m not sure and right now I don’t really care. But there is some comfort in knowing it’s not either of those two so I can stop trying to find puzzle pieces that aren’t there anymore or try to place new pieces in spaces where they don’t fit. It’s one thing to recognize this; it’s another to accept it. I think I said something similar to that earlier.
Cora would have turned three this year. It’s crazy to think about. Time flies. Maybe today if I get a few moments I’ll spend some time reflecting on her and how life is so different than the way my wife and I thought it would be.
In a strange way I’m thankful for the experience because I know I’ve grown as a person. I wouldn’t have chosen the path, but it’s the one God laid before me. Praise God. He was good before and He’s still good now. There is hope in that too. That’s something worth reflecting on.
It’s off to Montpelier tonight for my first board meeting as a member of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board. Waterfowl, turkeys, and a few other items are on the agenda. I’m looking forward to it. I bet it’ll be like opening a box of chocolates. 😉
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