There’s an old country song called “The Night Before Life Goes On” that chronicles the night before a young, small-town girl moves away to college leaving behind her tiny community and her high school sweetheart. It’s full of all the things that make a good country/western song…but that’s about all it has going for it.
The title though, it plays through my head over and over again as each new season of life is ushered in. The night before college graduation. The night before walking down the aisle. The night before becoming a mother. The night before leaving your childhood home for the final time. The night before the job change. The night before life goes on -we’ve all been there, in that bittersweet place of letting go of what “once was” and embracing all that lies ahead…both the good and the bad.
Sometimes “the night before,” comes and goes without us even realizing it. The night before the diagnosis. The night before the car accident. The night before the truth comes out. The night before the job loss. The night before the mass shooting. The night before life changes completely. That’s when it’s the most cruel, when you don’t even have the opportunity to savor that last moment of normalcy before everything you’ve ever known becomes unfamiliar and foreign.
Today I came across this photo of some of my very best friends from college. It was the night before graduation and we were snapping pictures across campus enjoying being together one last time. In the years since, we’ve had weddings, baby showers, and even girl’s weekends, but it was the very last time we were all together as a collective group. It’s not a sad story, really. We’ve stayed in touch and have gone on to be blessed with amazing careers, incredible personal experiences, and wonderful families – I just wonder if we had known that it would be our last time together, if we would have savored it a little longer.
Maybe more than the company, I wish I had savored the days when picking out a homecoming outfit was my biggest concern, when juggling three social events was a stress trigger, and when a bottle of wine, a chick-flick and a night in the apartment with my best friends could mend a broken heart.
Life’s not quite so simple these days. There’s more at stake when you’re raising two little people, running a home, working full time, and trying to be a good wife. But at the core of it, some things never change. Instead of homecoming outfits, we’re in the season of princess dresses and tiaras, and seeing a preschool twirl across the room is the most important concern of the day. Instead of juggling three social events in a week, we’re learning how to balance baseball practice, work schedules, and family commitments. And even though a bottle of wine and chick-flick won’t fix a broken heart, being surrounded by incredible women and some good chocolate can lift the weariest of souls.
I guess what I’m getting at is the realization that life goes on…and on…and on. Sometimes the changes are magical like a marriage or the birth of a child, and sometimes they are unexpected. Either way, we have to learn to embrace each new journey and both the joys and challenges it brings. Because tucked in between the good and the bad, the planned and the unexpected, and the laughter and tears is the precious journey we call “Life.”