Tomorrow I turn thirty-two, which is the age my oldest brother happened to be when he passed away in 2006 from melanoma. I can't help but experience a somber feeling as I've reached this same age and wonder of a lifetime that was lost.
When you are told you have six months to live, how do you determine to prioritize your time and energy with the days you have left? I am reminded that none of us are invincible, and old age is not promised to anyone.
Somehow, we live with a feeling of invincibility until the unthinkable frames our reality once more. The truth was, my brother lived his life with no regrets, and he spent every last day of his life doing what mattered most: intentionally loving, connecting, and focusing on the present moments he had.
That is what I remember about him as a thirty two year old, surrounded by his wife, children and family, whom he loved more than anything. He didn’t wish for anything other than more time with the ones he loved.
With each passing year, I am learning more about this. Learning that life is not about waiting for the right circumstances or until the kids grow up or when all the bills have been paid.
It's here, in the now, in the messy and chaotic moments, in grief and loss, in the mundane and stillness between the noise; in seasons of plenty and in times of drought.
At the end of our lives, however long or short that might be, does it matter what we accomplished in the eyes of what the world deems successful as much as the people who mattered and taught us about love?
For the last eight years, I have been in the trenches of motherhood and have wrestled with understanding myself and my identity outside of being mom.
I have come to realize that it is this calling of motherhood that has allowed me to blossom into the person I am today.
To find worth aside from what I could accomplish or what society says makes me successful, to find that joy exists here in the crossroads of delight and struggle, in losing myself only to find what really matters.
That in the dying to self, the richness of unconditional love can be found.
I am grateful for another year of life, one that brought my son into our family, rekindled friendships, saw my girls bloom, sowed passions and sharpened me through unlikely challenges.
I pray that as I go into this 32nd year of my life, I will continue to embark on a journey of truly living; of learning to slow down long enough to take in life exactly where I am. Because gratitude where we are now will always make our lives enough as they are, and the gifts of the every day, ordinary moments will not be overlooked or lost.
In loving memory of my brother, Juan de Dios Estrada,"Johnny", 1974-2006