I was lying here in bed browsing some of the pins I have on Pinterest. I happened to see this one and it was almost as if the picture jumped off the page at me. I know I’ve told this story before at some point but I feel the need to do so again. During my mom’s hospital stay after her car accident we were placed on the 5th floor of a rehabilitation hospital (after her lengthy stay in the trauma unit). It just so happens the room she was placed in allowed for a magnificent view of the Nashville skyline. I had a recliner that made into a bed and I slept there faithfully for three months. That room became my home away from home and my sanctuary, if you will. It was in that room that I met myself. Yes, you heard me right. I met myself, the real me, the strong woman who had been hiding inside for so long. Yes, I was strong and I faced so many challenges in my life previously, but what I didn’t realize at the time, was the fact that I wasn’t just a normal everyday maple tree but I was a mighty oak. Now, she has lost it you might say. No, I’m right on target. You see it is in our hardest struggles that we dig deep down inside and we gather up all the strength we have and we plow right through whatever it is that is in our way. I was often viewed like the Maple tree growing fast, adjusting, and good for many things…in the case of the maple….shade 🙂 However, the maple tree grows so fast that it’s wood becomes brittle and tend to break in heavy storms. It’s roots seem to invade sewage pipes and drain fields which is notorious for leading to cracked pavement such as driveways. Okay, so I’m not a tree and I certainly don’t invade the sewer but there is a similarity. I had to grow up fast and missed a lot of my childhood due to my brother’s illness. I grew so quickly that I didn’t give my time to successfully move through the earlier stages of life. When struggles came (such as storms with the maple) I would bend and sometimes nearly break. However, the day came when the little maple looked at itself and over it’s past. It saw the many hardships and struggles and it realized that although it had bent and bent it had never broken. Now, standing in one of the deadliest storms it had ever faced it stood tall and it stood strong. That maple had been a mighty oak all along. I sat there night after night listening to that damn ventilator breathe for my mama. I held her hand and sang to her. I told her stories that I remembered from my childhood and I read to her. I also had to tell her every single day that my daddy was dead. I had to make her re-live his death over and over. I bent to the point of cracking on more than one occasion but at night I would sit there and I would look out over that beautiful skyline thinking about my kids back home. I saw the beauty of the universe in that window and the fact that my babies were sleeping underneath that same big beautiful sky made me feel so much closer to them. One night when I had just about had it I got a text message from my sweet friend Jesse who had been my rock through so many long nights and exhausting days. It simply said “it’s always darkest before the dawn”. I sat there and waited for the sun to come up and it was the most amazing sun rise ever! The golden rays of life beamed into my mom’s room and I knew everything would be okay. Jesse kept me going by using that quote. I knew the nights had to come to an end and I knew that our tragedy would have to come to an end. I have never in my life felt so alone or so scared. I was a single woman with three kids who had just lost her husband to divorce, her dad to heart disease, and her entire life to an automobile accident. Yes, I lost it all….my job, my car, my home. I had no idea what I was going to do but I did it anyway. Yes, the oak grows slow but it grows strong and it grows in many conditions. It is rugged, beautiful, and durable. Your nights are surely going to come. You will face heartache, loss, grief, and on many occasions feel that you will never see the sun shine again. When that happens you remember that you are a mighty oak and you WILL be standing strong when the sun rises! It’s always darkest before the dawn!