The struggle of a writer is, ironically, figuring out exactly what to write about at any given time. We tend to have a colorful, ever-morphing way of thinking and we relish putting those ideas down on paper (or screen) for others to read. It's part of our identity. I was sifting through different ideas that'd been dancing through my head the past couple of weeks and, finally, came to an uneasy rest on the topic of what divides our lives into "before" and "after" sections.
The answer for me was obvious. I lost my father, unexpectedly, when I was 18-years-old and my life was brutally cleaved in two by his loss. Others who have experienced the loss of a loved one can easily relate. There's nothing quite like it in the world. It burrows into the heart and makes it a stale, laughable fragment of what it was once. That isn't what this article is about, however. We've all read articles on loss, it's part of how we deal with it as human beings.
What astounds me about the concept of our lives "before and after" any traumatic life event is that we are capable of growing beyond that trauma. Like a forest landscape devastated by a raging wildfire, we can slowly creep back into existence--a beautiful existence fraught with flowers, winding vines, and towering oaks.
I still tend to look at my life "before and after" my father's death, but there are now more words to the story. I am married to the love of my life and I think of my life "before and after" him somewhat regularly. I think of "before and after" we were married, that one can get tangled let me tell you. I think of "before and after" my sister left for college.
We always tend to think of our lives in the "after" portion when maybe, just maybe, we should view it as part of the "before." There is no sin in looking at life retroactively, it's part of being proud of what we've become. I propose that we being proactive about enjoying life, now. We are living in some portion of our life's "before" and we don't have the good grace to acknowledge it. Hopefully, whatever lies in the "after" portion isn't the result of a trauma, a pain, or a loss. If it is, however, I pray that we can find the strength to look at the "before" and smile.
That is a slow and painful lesson to learn on your own. I used to physically cringe when I would think of my father, it just broke me in half every time. Call it the numbing of time or the growing of mind but now I think of him, just him, and smile. The before and after of that trauma are still starkly different in my mind but they are beginning to meld, to get along again. I find solace in knowing that I, Livi, came to that ability on my own, of my own accord.
We are all living in either a "before" or "after" part of our lives. It all depends on what we choose to see.