When the Clouds Disappear

By Laura Edwards

We take so much for granted in life. Why is it that it often takes losing something, or the prospect of losing it, to realize what we have? I took childhood for granted, and then, one day, I looked in the mirror and discovered that I was all grown up. I treated summers with my (now) husband that way during the four years that we attended different colleges, and every year, right around the time that July changed over to August, it occurred to me that we were about to be apart for another nine months, and I tried to cram an entire relationship into two weeks. Luckily for me, he married me anyway. I treated college that way; I graduated. I took my best friend from college for granted, and now I never see her, even though a mere 150 miles of highway separates us. I know now that while true friendships last forever, time with friends doesn’t always survive. I took my grandmother for granted – she was much younger than my friends’ grandmothers, and I loved her more than anything, and I thought I’d have her forever. Now, she has a terrible brain disease, and whenever I see her, I want to hold her and never let go and burst into tears at the same time. And I ALWAYS took my little sister for granted, right up until July 24, 2006, when the geneticist told my parents she has a fatal monster called Batten disease inside of her. Even now, I struggle to find a balance between spending time with her and trying to save her, much of which I do alone on my laptop while she sits in my parents’ house just three miles down the road.

I’m often guilty of taking life itself for granted, no matter how many times I’m reminded of its fragility, by watching people I love suffer or passing by crumpled cars and ambulances and fire trucks on the side of the road. I get into a rhythm. I get up in the morning and, if it’s a weekday, float from the kitchen (where the caffeine is), to the shower, to the closet, to rush-hour traffic to, finally, my office. Every night, I sink into bed far too close to the time that I’m scheduled to rise and do it all over again, closing a chapter on another day sans great adventure, with only my dreams to connect me to the whole wide, wonderful world just out of reach. Sometimes, deep down inside, I want to get in my car and drive west or on a plane and fly halfway around the world, just because I can.

I talk about dancing in the rain; but I’ve gotten perhaps too skilled at knowing when it’s raining, something that may have come from sharpening my survival instinct over these past four years of my life laced with sadness. What I don’t remind myself often enough is to look UP at that fleeting blue sky whenever the clouds disappear.

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