This box arrived shortly after 9am this morning. I knew what was in the box. It’s a box I’d been waiting for since I placed the order five days ago, but in all actuality, it was a box I’d been dreaming of for years. (I can distinctly remember sitting in my sophomore English class and daydreaming about what it would be like to hold the thing in that box). The thing that box held was more than a physical object. The thing in that box represented secret hopes that I hadn’t told anyone about until last year. The thing in that box represented something I never imagined would come to fruition. The thing in that box represented hours and hours and hours of work. The thing in that box put some deep part of me on display to the world.
And when I finally opened it- six hours later- my hands were shaking as I slid the scissors along the tape. And even when it was unsealed, I paused. My breathing was ragged, and tears were stinging the back of my eyes because this was it. There are defining moments in your life. I’m not talking about life-changing miracles like getting married or bringing your children into the world. Those are certainly life-altering moments that cause you to pause and wonder how in the world you deserve such a thing, but there are times when something you have been working towards finally comes to fruition, and you can’t help but marvel at what you made happen. You can’t help but stand in awe when you look back on all the sacrifices and blood and sweat and tears you poured out of yourself to get to this point. You’ve given everything you had for something, and then given even more when you thought you had nothing left. You’ve done it because no one else was going to do it for you. No one else cared about it like you do. I’ve had these moments before: earning a cruise three years in a row with a company I was part of just to prove to myself and everyone who doubted me that I could do it, moving to our farmstead and drinking coffee on my back porch the first morning I woke up here, among other things. And now today would be added to that list.
I pulled that paperback book from the box and stared at it.
And just like all those other times, there are no words. There aren’t words for the multitude of emotions that rush through your body, through your mind (which is saying something considering I’m a writer, but here we are). There aren’t words for the way your heart races and your fingers tremble and your eyes blink back the tears that still manage to escape down your face.
When we lost Scarlett and I conceded that the dream of having four children, that the dream of having a little girl, had indeed died when her heart had stopped beating, and I broke. I always say that losing Clara broke my heart but losing Scarlett broke my soul. A lot of things came out of that breaking. I changed in a lot of ways. My outlook on the world changed. My faith changed in tangible ways as I experienced being rebuilt by my Jesus in ways I never expected. Those things happen when you walk through trauma.
But one of the most beautiful things that came from those brutal ashes was that I came to realize that no once cares as much about my dreams as I do. Life is too damn short not to do something that makes you happy, and I was done playing by society’s rules. I wanted more for myself and my family, and I wanted to show my boys that their dreams are theirs to chase and grab and cling to with all that they are because no one else will do it for them.
I took huge leaps of faith following the loss of my girls. Not tiny tiptoes over a line. I jumped. I plunged headfirst into cold waters knowing very well the waves would try to pull me under, but drowning wasn’t an option. I’d been drowning in grief and loss and shattered dreams for far too long at this point. It’s an incredibly freeing thing to join the club where you officially could give two shits less what other people think of you- whether that be friends, family members, or complete strangers. But remember what I said? No one cares about the deepest desires of your heart like you do, so who really gives a flying fuck if they think you can’t go back to school and get that degree, start that business you’ve been thinking about, write the book, switch careers and become a baker, adopt a baby, homeschool your children, change your diet, etc., etc., etc.?
My dreams don’t stop with seeing that novel in printed form and holding it in my hands. I’m under no delusions that I’m suddenly going to be topping best-seller lists anytime soon. I know that some people will hate my books. I know that some people will say I’m not a real author because I chose to go the indie-author route (after months and months of research and careful consideration, I might add). But I also do not care. Not even the tiniest amount. Because writing is what ignites my soul. Writing is how I express myself and process things around me. I write for me and the people who find the worlds and stories I create as an escape from reality when they have to stay where they are. For the people who see themselves in the characters. For the people who draw strength from fictional beings the way I have done for years and years to process and handle my own life challenges and trauma.
But I also will not overlook the monumental occasion that holding that book in my hands was. I made that happen. No one else. And, Friends, we deserve to celebrate our accomplishments. We deserve to have those moments. Yes, bigger dreams are still being chased, but the dreams that happen along the way, deserve just as much celebration. Because while your spouse may encourage you, while your family members might cheer you on, while your friends might challenge you to chase your dreams, no one will do it for you because none of them care about it like you do. And your dreams matters, dammit! The things that make your heart race and make you feel alive matter. It’s up to you to jump.