Have You Ever

by Amanda


I have an image of us driving down Union Street, the part where it curves toward Church, Brandi Carlile’s voice crisp in the air of our newly purchased crossover SUV. It was a little after eight in the morning, June 25, 2007. My water broke half an hour before. We were soaring and nervous and ready. We were driving to the hospital to meet our daughter.

Have you ever wandered lonely through the woods?
And everything there feels just as it should
You’re part of the life there, you’re part of something good
If you’ve ever wandered lonely through the woods
If you’ve ever wandered lonely through the woods

My labor that day would be long and uncertain. I progressed slowly over the course of the day and late into the evening, and then the changes came lightning fast. Baby Girl was stubborn even then, and they wheeled me off for a cesarean.

Eleven minutes before midnight, she came. She was healthy, I was exhausted, we were a family.

Have you ever stared into a starry sky
Lying on your back you’re asking why
What’s the purpose, I wonder who am I
If you’ve ever stared into a starry sky
Have you ever stared into a starry sky

I found another life on the other side of that downtown bridge, a life that began in a tiny hospital room on the seventh floor.

I did not know then how I would weep with joy and fear two years later over another positive pregnancy test, this one quite unexpected. I would never have dreamed twin boys were in our future, just as stubborn and healthy as that first baby girl. I could not foresee the flood of tears that would come and come and come again.

When we nearly lost my dad just before those baby boys turned one.
When I would weep in the grocery store checkout line over cupcake mix and party plates and being two dollars short.
When I would sob on the phone with the lady from Bank of America, anxiety-ridden and begging for mercy as we lost our savings in rental house form.
When I would spend two years watching my father continue the battle – heart failure, lung failure, cancer, and finally slip away to a life where he can breathe full again.

I did not know because so much of our story was yet unwritten. So much still is.

Have you ever been out walking in the snow
Tried to get back to where you were before
You always end up not knowing where to go
If you’ve ever been out walking in the snow
If you’d ever been out walking you would know

My husband said something recently that I could not fully appreciate until I let it sink in over hours and days. He said he can’t regret anything from his past because it led him to me, to us.

I have regrets. I have parts of my history I wish I could wipe clean with a giant eraser, decisions I would take back in a second because of the ache they caused. Moments I wish I could have escaped because the pain is too sharp.

But what if he’s right? What if all of our steps are made new again in the freshly fallen snow?

What if our job is not to go back and retrace them, not to pine over what could have been or agonize over all that was, but just keep walking, allowing the steps change us and heal us as we go?

And we go. We go walking down new trails, under the changing trees. We wander crooked paths through rain and sun and snow, knowing, hoping that the steps and missteps behind us will be made beautiful in light of what’s ahead.

One foot after the other. Maybe this is redemption’s way.

“Have You Ever” – Lyrics by Phillip John Hanseroth, Performed by Brandi Carlile

Photo Credit: Scott Wylie, Flickr Creative Commons


5 Responses to “Have You Ever”

  1. Judy November 8, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    just keep walking, allowing the steps change us and heal us as we go?
    Such grace in this, Amanda. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.
    Wishing you a one-foot -after-the-other weekend.

  2. Diana Trautwein November 8, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    Love this. A whole lot. And the song is new to me – thanks for that. (Also? I think your husband is right. Even the regrets. Yeah, even the regrets.)

  3. Leigh Kramer November 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    I’m a teary-eyed mess right now. I needed to read this and I know I’ll be referring back to it again. I’m so glad you’re in my life, Amanda.

  4. Elaine November 26, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    This article reminds me so much of what I heard Elisabeth Elliot say once when asked about how to proceed after a tragedy. Her response was “do the next thing.” It seems simple advice but not always easy to do. Thanks for sharing this song (which I hadn’t heard, but now love!) and this thought and heart provoking article. I’ll be mulling for a while (while enjoying he music!!!) I guess that’s my next step! Love you, girl!


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