Once upon a time--when I was a teenager and things still had the blessed taint of youth--Cade and I went rock climbing in Hawaii. We didn't say much, feeling nature and the beauty around us. We were near the top of a huge waterfall when my hands started stiffening from being too close to the cold rock and water.
Cade climbed over the cliff ahead of me, and was about to turn around when I started slipping. Time moved slowly. I didn’t have a chance to say a word. So many thoughts went through my mind as I slipped and began falling back toward the water that cascaded hundreds of feet below me.
A cliff. So this is how I would die. My stomach lurched. I slipped farther and my eyes darted back to the water. The jagged rocks scrapped my shaking hands as I tried clinging to the mountainside. My shoes felt heavy and leaden; the whole predicament was hopeless.
Just as my hands completely faltered and I began tumbling from the rocky siding, Cade turned toward me. My heart pounded. I couldn’t hear anything. In slow motion, I watched as Cade’s face grimaced in concentration. He instantly flattened himself and reached for my wrist. I swore he missed. My right arm flailed in the air because my feet were staying in place as I fell backward. Desperate, I stared into Cade’s eyes. That’s when I realized he’d grabbed me, just in time.
Tears poured across my face as I twisted and slammed against the rocky wall. The water rushed once more within my hearing. A buzzing sound filled my aching head as Cade helped me over the side. I leaned into his shoulder and didn’t even realize how badly I’d bruise later. “I almost fell,” I stuttered.
We stayed like that for a time, and when I saw Cade’s face, I couldn’t believe how shook up he was.
But the fact remains; we're divorced now. And if I fall, Cade won't be there to catch me. I thought about this the other day as I waited at the pediatrician's office, wondering how I could possibly face life without anyone for a safety net. That's when I read a quote on the wall: "Be strong for your kids. Make them your priority and everything else will follow." I closed my eyes and thought hard. Maybe this is what growing up is about: Taking responsibility for ourselves. Seeing the journey that brought us where we are. Accepting changes gracefully, as best we can.
It's wonderful that Cade and I were married for the time we were. But a new life awaits both of us. I need to hold firm to the rock--no more falling for me. And I need to be strong for my children, in case they ever need me to catch them--like I once needed someone to catch me.
It's my turn to be the source of security. It's my turn to be the safety net for my kids. We'll make it through this. And that's what I'm thankful for today: the good times, the bad times, the times in between. And the fact that I'm being strong for my kids, when really they're my source of hope through all of this.