It would be a joke to think I'm here today solely on my own merits.
I'm here, the person I am in the place I'm in, not only because, of who I am inside, but because, of the people who touched my life in the past.
There have been dozens, maybe hundreds, possibly even thousands of people who have changed the course of my life, just by happenstance. However, I rarely think of them.
Every once in a while, when major changes happen in my life, I find myself thinking about a girl I used to know.
We'd grown up in the same town, went to the same high school, and participated in the same activities, but we weren't truly friends until after the thrill of graduation, and the realization that the friends we'd made in school weren't friends who could go the distance.
After my first marriage deteriorated and I found out I was pregnant, she's the person who drove through the night with me from the bright lights of California to the towering trees and cloudy skies of Washington, to escape the unhealthy situation I'd found myself in.
Two months later, she held my hand as my body fought to save a baby that didn't have a chance, and I lost my son to a medical mistake.
She is the person who grabbed me by the heart and forced me to start living life again, when all I felt capable of doing was hiding in the dark and crying.
There are hundreds of photos of us together. Moments of our lives captured, frozen in time forever. I have them in a box in the closet. I can pull out a photo and remember the exact moment it was taken. A pretty neat trick considering most of the photos were taken while alcohol was flowing freely, and we weren't feeling any pain.
During those times, my only plan was to live life without true emotion. To have fun, to smile, to have a good time, but to never dig too deeply into my heart, because that is where the darkness would overcome me. I drank to have fun, I drank to be fun, and I drank to hold off the memories of dreams I'd only begun to have.
Our party days had to come to an end sometime, and that happened when I eventually opened my heart enough to let it heal. I got married to the Marine, moved to Hawaii, and life slowly began again.
We maintained our friendship through several moves--from Hawaii to Virginia, but when I finally moved back to the same coast, back this time to California, things changed.
She had her third child, a son, and I wasn't there for the birth. I hadn't been the first person to hear about the pregnancy, and I found out about the birth weeks after the fact.
We never had a falling out, never had a blowup of any kind. We just got caught up with our own lives. I wish things could be different, but they're not. Life goes on, and some people aren't supposed to be there forever. Some people have a specific job to do, and once it is done, they move on.
When I think of her, there is a tinge of sadness for the memories of long ago, but there is mostly happiness.
Happiness, because of the life I have now. The choices she helped me make. The adventures we had that led me to where I was supposed to be.
I only hope, I helped her as much as she helped me.
Do you have someone from your past that you think fondly of? I'd love to hear the story.