This past four months has given me a gift.
I'm not talking about the adorable Kaylee Grace, as deliciously wonderful as she is, I am talking about a different gift. Lovingly wrapped in heart stopping terror and topped with a quaint bow of grief and trauma.
It's called PERSPECTIVE.
And it pervades every aspect of my life.
I thought I was a person who would tell a friend what I thought but I now realise I too often shut my mouth, pretending it was because I was open minded or cared about their feelings.
The truth is, it was often because I was afraid of what they would think of me if I disagreed with them.
Now, I pray I will always have the strength, wisdom and fortitude to lean over, place a loving hand on their arm and say with a voice filled with love and compassion, "Dude, you are totally screwing up your life", when the situation warrants it.
Because when you have seen birth and death brush so closely, you realise that stuff matters and life is short.
I thought I was a person who realised what really mattered in life. I thought by being thrifty and not buying nice clothes or nice things even when I had money to do so I was being good and righteous. I thought that by quashing the little thrill of joy that simple pleasures gave me I was earning my place and not being any trouble to those around me.
The truth is I was still carting around baggage that told me that I wasn't worth the cost of those small pleasures.
Now, I pray I will drink deeply of the joys of simple, pretty things. That I will sip a mocha without feeling guilty because it cost money. That I will spend a few dollars on things that serve only to bring me joy occasionally without beating myself up over it.
Because when the only thing you can do for your baby is put a bow in her hair, you realise bows matter.
I thought I had a good grasp of what it meant to be a good friend. I thought I realised the importance of friends in my life. I thought I had a pretty good idea who was and was not a true friend in my life.
But the truth was I had no idea.
I had no idea that a friend from halfway around the world who I have never met, or even spoken to, in real life could carry me through hell with a hand full of eclectic love tokens she had tossed in a box months before - and that the weekly-ish emails we exchange filled with the sweet and sour nothings of every day are actually an elixir to my soul. I had no idea that people were so kind. I had no idea of how much those prayers, words of encouragement and the time people put into ministering to me and my family could mean. That a fruit basket from a stranger would help me put one foot in front of the other when my world was falling apart.
Now I pray I will always be there for those I love as much as they will allow me to be. Even when they are not fun. Even when their drama is no longer exciting or new or thrilling to be a part of - I will recognise that they still need to live it. Every. Single. Day. And that a kind word, a few moments of my time, a touch, a look, a gesture just might be the fuel they need to keep going.
Because when you are falling apart, the people who are there to pass you back pieces of yourself matter.
The word "crisis" comes from a Greek root word meaning to sift or separate. This is what the last few months have done for me. They have distilled my life. Forced me to let go of all of those things that did not truly matter and hold hard - FIGHT for - those things that do.