Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

The Best Is Yet to Come – Part One

on July 3, 2015

(I recently stumbled across a CD containing a Word folder of articles I wrote 10–15 years ago. With a little tweaking, some still resonate with me today. Since I’ll be traveling quite a bit until July 17, I thought I’d split this one into three parts.)

June 1995

The restaurant smelled like food — not today’s special but the lingering odor of hundreds of meals cooked over the last five years. She passed by the done-diners as they shuffled toward the door, their faces squinting and stuffed, their clothes carrying the odor with them as they stepped back out into daylight.

The process was simple: you went to the counter and bought your meal, the daily special, and took your seat. No menus. No waitresses. Just blue collars and white sleeves scattered around the room, slumped over wobbly metal tables, silently slurping down their food while the lunch hour scurried past.

She found her place and sat, opening a book — a historical romance set on a Caribbean island — in front of her as she ate. She always took a book or magazine; it at least gave the appearance she was eating alone by choice. She didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for her.

What she was chewing on barely registered: bland beef and noodles that benefitted greatly from a good layer of salt and pepper. But this restaurant was close to work, a place to go, a change of pace to break up the endless routine of ham sandwiches and fruit cups in the company lunchroom.

It didn’t matter. This was her life. She would learn to live with it. She had to … or die trying.

She thought about that too.

This was a day to forget.

***

Summer 2014 048

A different beach, a different year … but I took this while vacationing with my family on the Outer Banks in 2014.

June 1999

Sunlight glistened off the waves as they flowed in from the Gulf Sea, a laser-dance courtesy of some scientific, technical thing with, probably, a boring name. The day slumbered lazily in its summer dress, sticky and warm, but the breeze billowing over the ocean set its skirt to swinging and cooled off the skin of those who enjoyed it.

She was perfectly comfortable in her new orange- and rose-colored swimsuit as she sipped on a tall, cold glass of lemonade. Five of her dearest friends were jumping waves while two others lounged nearby, and the three chatted casually as they soaked up the rays.

Soon she began to feel too warm and ran into the water to join those at play. They decided to rent kayaks and race each other to the buoys and back.

Later, they ate dinner at an open-air restaurant with sand on the floor and palm tree branches on the walls. They sat on swings, their legs dangling beneath them, and ate tacos and burritos and tortilla chips with cilantro-laden salsa and laughed and shared and came to understand and appreciate their God-blessed friendship even more. They were young and on vacation and having a wonderful time. All they had to think about was what adventure to chase after next.

This was a day to remember.

***

You’ve just read about two very different days in my life. Two days which were, remarkably enough, a mere four years apart. Your life can change that quickly. And as I look back on who I was in that restaurant compared to who I was on that beach, I am astounded at the way God worked in my life. He took me from wishing I was dead to feeling almost perfectly happy so quickly and, seemingly, effortlessly, that I still can’t comprehend it.

But that’s what life is, isn’t it? A series of good and bad days mingled together and following some kind of path that makes no sense while we’re on it, but, looking back, clearly was leading us to where we are right now. And that’s okay. We learn to trudge through the bad and treasure the good as the best life has to offer.

“The best life has to offer.”

Hmm.

What if it isn’t? Isn’t that the question you subconsciously ask yourself? I mean, what if the absolute best day you ever had — your wedding day, the birth of your child, finally getting that big promotion — was really just so-so, a not-too-bad bad day, a moment in time that will eventually became so distant and average as to be forgotten?

What if this day, today, with each breath and each laugh and each tear it carries isn’t even life at all, but a precursor to something we could never begin to imagine?

… to be continued …

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