It just wasn’t possible
to sit down and share this with you
when I intended.
Apparently, my tradition of an ode to the previous year wasn’t what I was supposed to write about.
The first Sunday of December marked my 25th year,
a celebration of a winter morning from a quarter century ago, when hands reached down and pulled me out into this world.
It was the day I took my first breath,
the day I first felt my parents’ touch,
the day that our family of three musketeers was formed.
It makes sense that this day would be more meaningful than the rest.
On this most recent December 7th, as I stood with arms outstretched and eyes closed, the pages of Me began to fall away from the binding.
It was like every single sentence of my life story had led me to this message,
which, oddly enough, was a response to my biggest fear.
It was the spring of 2008,
a wooded retreat center in rural Oregon,
a room full of 18-year-old girls -my classmates- sitting cross-legged in a tight circle, holding hands, enjoying a last gathering before we were to toss our graduation caps a few weeks later, dispersing into this new chapter of life called college, or work, or whatever we had planned.
We were a group of the chattiest high school seniors that you ever did see,
but even bubbly teenage girls can be brought to silence when the right question is asked…
“What is your biggest fear?”
Questions about fear aren’t the kind that elicit a quick response,
or a response that you’d care to voice publicly.
I grew up hiding my fears,
grew up trying to pretend I didn’t have any.
And because of that, I ended up carrying the weighty, lumpy, awful mass of fears all by myself.
So when this question was posed, inviting us to open up and unload our fears… I was dreading to and dying to all at the same time.
I don’t remember deciding that I was going to stand up and share.
I don’t remember who I was looking at, or even thinking of the words I was going to speak before my mouth opened and they just started coming out. It was like I was in the audience watching myself, wondering, ‘What’s she going to say?’
Up until that point, the tapestry of my life contained several scarlet strands of family deaths. These threads were not ones I’d chosen, nor ones I would have ever expected to be woven into my life before I was 16… but there they were, knit into my side, stitched across my heart. Even if they were sewn with pain, I came to see these threads as some of the most beautiful parts of my story, for they were veins of memories of those whom I deeply loved.
So there I was, standing before my peers, lifting back the veil to my life that even I rarely let myself look at.
Peeling off the layers ever so slightly, I said it. I said my biggest fear.
“I’m afraid of being alone.”
As an only child with no living grandparents and only one living parent, I would PRAY PRAY PRAY that nothing else would happen, because my everything revolved around one person. And that one person was my dad.
No sooner had I voiced my biggest fear, the walls crumbled.
Death had come again, snatching what I thought was my everything.
My biggest fear had happened.
I was alone.
Our big fears seem so massive.
They feel like being swallowed by the sea and then drug down to the depths.
But it’s only in the hellish dark pit of those big fears that
HOPE can show up and prove that
your life is so much more than your fears.
When you stand firm in Truth,
fear has no power over you.
And most of all, HOPE can tell fear that it is so incredibly false.
Friday evening, on the cusp of year 25, HOPE showed up.
She sat next to me during a soul-sister dinner. Sweet conversation and honesty, decaf coffee and Norwegian almond ring cake.
She slid in next to my yoga mat on Saturday,
then stopped by for a blast-from-the-past meeting with a friend I hadn’t seen since I was 7.
She lead me up to the top floor of my apartment building for…
OH MY WORD. OH MY GOODNESS (x27) as I lost my voice screaming when I was saw a room filled with so many lovely people who surprised me with a birthday celebration.
She embraced me with hugs, shouted “holy cow” and cried tears with me as I watched a video montage of my family across the country singing and dancing and wishing me the happiest of happiness. Then, in typical adult fashion, she inspired some highly civilized activities of popping balloons with one’s rear end. And it was delightful.
HOPE blurred Saturday night into Sunday morning, twilight conversations with another soul sister as we talked and held each other’s hearts.
And on the birthday day itself, HOPE came busting through with songs of GLORY HALLELUJAH!
rejoicing with the most phenomenal of phenomenal women,
dripping down a stack of syrupy pancakes,
beaming with pride when celebrating a dear friend following her dreams,
welling up in the corners of my eyes when a family tucked me in as one of their own with a surprise carrot cake topped with 25 candles.
When I finally got home close to 10 o’clock that night, to tell you the truth, I was exhausted.
Adding everything up, I realized I had only spent 2 hours by myself that weekend.
I sat on my couch, resting my head on a pillow, wanting to close my eyes and fall asleep right there,
but I couldn’t. Because I heard something.
“Taylor, you feared being alone? Sweet child, you couldn’t be alone even if you tried.”
The beautiful began flowing down my cheeks.
I couldn’t be alone.
I will never be alone.
I have never been alone, have I?
I looked at FEAR and watched HOPE shatter it. Then I swept up the pieces, threw them in the trash and wiped my hands clean.
So this is how year 25 was to begin —
with a powerful truth
and the end of a preposterous fear.