Today, it felt like I took that last step, off the bridge. I looked back, at all of the beams that made up the bridge that I’ve been walking across.
When I placed my foot on the first beam, I was 22. Young, free, and ready to take on the world. I was in college, learning, and loving the knowledge that was pouring in. I didn’t even realize that I was on a bridge.
Moving forward, a few more beams, I graduated from college, got married, had my first child.
I stood on the edge of the bridge at this point. I looked back, often. Everything happened so quickly. I kept trying to figure out how I got there. I relied on myself to take the next steps. I fell a few times, and relied on myself again, to get back up.
Another child, a few more years of marriage, a few more beams under foot, exhausted.
We moved an hour away from our family and friends so that his commute to work would be less stressful. We met new friends, but I drove back to regain comfort every weekend.
I never looked up. I just kept waking alone. I thought I had to be strong for my kids.
More beams, more years of marriage, two more children.
The bridge suddenly gave out.
I was hanging on, barely, fingers slipping, while my children were clinging to me.
Instead of crying out for help, I climbed back up, and walked back the way I came. My children were still clinging to me. They were afraid to let go.
We lived with my parents during the divorce. We were still on the bridge, going the wrong way, crossing the same beam over and over, feeling stuck in one place, for several years.
I was so tired, and they were so heavy.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I see it now as I’m looking back at the completed bridge. It was being repaired, as we stood there, holding on to each other. The planks were being reset before us. Stronger.
I also didn’t know who was carrying me the next several planks in the right direction.
We bought a house. They started letting go of me. They started to breathe on their own. They started becoming their own.
I watched them run, jump, even skip ahead of me at times, on the bridge. I cherished their laughter. It made an imprint on my heart, and remained in my ears.
They reached the end of the bridge, leapt off, looked back at me, smiled, waved, and ran into their future.
I was alone.
For the first time in ten years, I looked up.
Instantly, my feet moved forward. Plank by plank, they found their way. Fear was behind me.
I felt a presence, daily, walking alongside me. I felt a love I never knew. I felt an embrace that gave me the strength to move forward, toward the end of the bridge.
I looked back, often, and I saw peace.
I took that last step off the bridge today.
I left the pain behind, and I decided to never let go of the arms that carried me across the broken planks.