Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Transformation Tuesday

Have you ever wondered, "Why am I here?" or "What's the meaning of life?" Cheryl here, and I know I have. Have you ever experienced an event that was so dramatic and/or traumatic that it transformed your life, your relationships, and your way of thinking? Today is the anniversary of that event for me- I consider today my second birthday. You need a little history.

20 years ago today, I was attending Texas Tech University majoring in Architecture and I was realizing that I may never understand the math and physics portion of this degree. My dreams of being an Architect were falling apart. My roommate decided she was going to go to Arizona for the summer and I had to shuffle to find a place to live. I felt a little displaced. My cousin also attended Texas Tech and he had room for a third roommate for the summer. That worked except that I had a cat (see, I had a pet) and his fall roommate was allergic. The decision was to relocate my cat and my roommate's cat to my sisters house for the summer.

The plan was to make the 11 hour trek from Lubbock to Refugio on Thursday, stay Friday and Saturday, and then head back to Lubbock on Sunday. Get in. See some friends. Drop off the cats. Get out. It started out as planned but quickly got derailed Friday night.

On Friday, my mom and I went to the infamous Moya's for lunch. Yum. I love me some Moya's. This is what it looks like: Wave hello to the folks you haven't seen. Hello old friend. Oh, hello old friend that I'm no longer speaking to because you led me to believe you were interested in me but were dating someone else. He really is a nice guy despite that incident. Lawrence came to the table and asked if I was still mad at him. I can't remember what I said but I must have forgiven him because we made plans for him to pick me up at Ethel's Beauty Shop.

I went and got my haircut. Hello Ethel. My hair misses you. She trimmed and we talked for a very long time. You see, the other thing going on in the background was that my parents who had been divorced since I was 12 decided that they would get back together. It was a difficult time for me because I hadn't really spoken to my dad in those 7 years after their divorce. If we did speak, you can guarantee that is was an argument. That's a whole different story but you can see that I was experiencing a bit of turmoil. School wasn't going well, I felt displaced when my roommate moved, I was mad at my friend, I was not eager about rebuilding my relationship with my dad and everything seemed to be strangling me.

I know, I know. Get to the point. When did your life change? Lawrence and I spent the day joking, laughing, running his errands and catching up. Oh, and I was drinking. He dropped me back off at home. From there the details are long and boring and complicated but we ended up back together at around the 9pm hour. We went on a "beer run" because that's what we do in small towns- never mind the fact that I was only 19. And that's when it happened.

As we travelled east in his Suburban on Ymbacion Street, we approached the train tracks. Small town- no flashing lights, no warning cross bars and a smaller road positioned parallel with the tracks. I can't tell you exactly what happened because I have no memory of it. I don't know if I saw it or if I braced for it or not. Afterwards, Lawrence said he thought a car was coming down that little road. I was told that as we began to cross the tracks the train hit the front tire on the drivers side, the suburban spun around and the back corner struck the train whereas that force threw us in the ditch. We were young and stupid and not wearing seat belts. I was a human pinball and he held on tightly to the steering wheel that he smashed his faced with and suddenly it didn't matter that I didn't understand physics or that I felt displaced or that my parents were back together.

At that moment my life was transformed into something else. It was transformed into surviving internal bleeding, exploratory surgery, years of dental work, and a new outlook on life. What was my lesson? It's hard to put it in one sentence but something like this: Life is not always easy but if you can keep it simple and focus on the good things you have, life will work itself out. Not that the lesson has always stayed with me in the past 20 years but I try to remember it on the anniversary of the occasion. And believe me, there are lots of times that I need to remember. Obviously, I survived and didn't suffer any real traumatic effects from the accident. Lawrence also survived just in case you're wondering. I gave up the journey to be an Architect and went back to square one. I moved back home to a place where no matter what happens, I will always belong. My dad and I began on our journey of rebuilding our relationship and I'm happy to say we made it through.

So back to those questions of "Why am I here?" and "What is the meaning of life?" I believe that there are many levels and many answers to those two questions. But, the best answer I ever heard was from a man in Utah. When Dick was asked " What's the meaning of life?" he didn't miss a beat and he calmly answered in his mello voice, "Love."

How about you? Do you have a moment where you felt transformed? Maybe you didn't feel it at that moment. Maybe you felt it months or even years later. It doesn't have to be a traumatic thing like a train accident. It can be an Aha moment when the light bulb came on and you finally understood physics. (That aha still escapes me.) Do you have an answer to: Why am I here? Or, what is the meaning of life? Please share.

So, Happy Second Birthday to me. I'm only 20- I can't even legally drink. Hmm... I wonder what Colorstrology says about May 19th. And what Chinese animal I am.

Signing off until tomorrow...

15 comments:

heather said...

Cheryl...Thanks for sharing your story. I can't say that I have a similar life altering moment because I was pulled back from death's grips but as hokey as it sounds I definitely think the moment I became a mother defined my life. I realized that it wasn't all about me, that I had a greater reason, a greater person to live and that purpose was to make sure that Lily has a great life.

Cheryl said...

I think that's a moment that has transformed lots of women, Heather.

Peggy and Robin are in a drawing for writing their poems over at Taste of USA! I'll announce the winner later this morning.

Polls are open! Go vote!

Peggy said...

Wow! Cheryl... thank you for sharing that powerful story.

My transformation began 19 years ago today when I became Mrs. Peggy Robinson.... Jeff and I celebrate 19 years of wedded bliss today....my big transformation a name change.... well and yes, it did change my life.... check out my blog sometime to see the journey and destiny that have come from that life altering change!

Katie K said...

My big life event would be when I was 13 and my mom was diagnosed with cancer. That experience taught me the importance of family. It also taught me at a young age that my problems are not the end of the world and there are other people dealing with a lot worse than me. It taught me about taking care of others and having a sense of responsibility for myself. Most importantly, I learned not to take anything or anyone for granted. You should tell them you love them everyday and live life like every day is the last day!

Cheryl said...

Happy Anniversary Peggy! 19 years is a great accomplishment. Here's to many, many more!!

Tera said...

Cheryl, awesome story. Thanks for being so open with this group!

Peggy, happy anniversary.

I'm not sure I have a life-altering/changing story to share with you. I think I'm in the middle of trying to figure out why am I here right now. With my career on hold due to the economy...or whatever it may be...I'm not sure what I'm here to do. I thought I had it all figured out then we relocated because of Treye's career and now I'm stuck not doing what I thought I was supposed to do. I guess time will tell.

Cheryl said...

Hang in there Tera! I know that must be completely frustrating.

What if... and this is only a thought... what if you're supposed to do something else? Or, what if you do something else just for now? Just thinking out loud.

Margaret said...

Thanks for sharing and I am glad Cheryl is in all our lives.

Chaotic said...

Turning point in my life? Well, the unplanned pregnancy I learned about in April 1986... or the birth of my only child Jan 10 1987.... but I think I will have to say Dec 2 1986. That was when I walked in on my husband (with his now wife) in a delicate situation. I'd gotten married for all the wrong reasons then stayed married because I found out I was pregnant. 12/2/86 I decided that I could do "this" (life) much better on my own, without settling, without support, without a clue as to where to go from that point. I stood up on my own 2 feet, dusted off my pride, found a backbone I did not know I had & never looked back. My son & I have not had easy times, but we made it thru them, together. And we are still doing so 22 years later. :-)

Sporadic Spy said...

Dick from Utah was right. It is the meaning and the purpose.

Heather said...

Wow I love how open everyone is being and how much insight today is providing into each of your lives.

Cheryl, I agree it has transformed alot of women. I would say it was also transforming for me because I had dreamed of a med free, natural birth and got the exact opposite with a scheduled c-section thanks to Little Miss Stubborn being breech. It was that whole experience that made me realize I couldn't decide how things would go with life any more than childbirth so I should just go with the flow because in the end I still got my beautiful baby regardless of how she got here.

Katie...I knew that about you but it still makes me tear up.

Tera...things will work out.

Peggy...congratulations on 19 years! It is a good week for wedding anniversaries...Bal and I have ours on Thursday, though we are just at 4 years of marriage (11 years together though!)

Chaotic...how awesome that you were able to take that moment to move on with your life, I don't think many people would have seen it that way. I didn't know you have a son!

Who else?

lindsaymarie said...

wow, cheryl, that is an incredible story. thank you so much for sharing. happy second birthday! =)
i don't think i've had a truly life-altering moment, yet.
dick's comment reminded me of a jack johnson lyric: "love is the answer at least for most of the questions in my heart, like 'why are we here?', 'where do we go?', and 'how come it's so hard?'" i agree.

Cheryl said...

OH! Lindsay, that is is one of my favorite Jack Johnson songs! Love him.

b.k.root said...

I enjoy me some Jack Johnson!

......

Turning point in my life. Hmmm... Well, I would say my dad and I have had some trying times. In fact, we've gone 5 years or longer not speaking. Well, last July one of my halfbrothers (one of my dad's sons from his 2nd marriage after my mom) overdosed and died after being kept alive literally via feeding tubes, etc., for a month.

I spent 5 to 6 days a week at the hospital with my dad; and it was during those trying times that we began to bond a little more. Now, a year later, we are on speaking terms and things are better.

Cheryl said...

Thank you everyone for sharing your stories with me! We are all stronger for it, don't you think?