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The Best Gift Ever (December 2019)

Not the best – but certainly the greatest gift.

Community Curator December 30, 2019
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This story was submitted by Sue Kindred to The Best Gift Ever collection as part of the December SEEQ sessions.

My best … or greatest gift? What a difficult question to even ponder, much less answer. I think the intent is that the two (greatest and/or best) be the same, but I’m not quite sure they are – the same I mean. As I flipped through the file cards stored in the memory crevasses of my brain, I came across a few best gifts. They were certainly the best at the time they were given and received. A Barbie house from Santa when I was 7, the gift of college – actually going away to school – when I was 18, the gift of a car when I was 20. Marriage in my 20’s and the birth of a son 7 years later; in my 40’s the gift of traveling the world in a job I loved, a move across country in my 50’s. So many blessings and wonderful gifts.

But as I contemplate this question, I have to believe that the greatest gift I’ve been given is the gift of failure. Yes, that’s right, the gift of failing, of coming up short, of being unsuccessful in whatever endeavor I’ve undertaken. When I take a look back at the high and low points of my life – and there have been a lot of those in 64 years – I realized that the times I failed were the ones that I learned the greatest lessons in life, got the most insight into myself, my humanity and my personal values. It’s when I ratcheted up a bit, learned a lesson or three, and found my bootstraps. And, bounced back higher than before.

When my marriage failed after 14 years, I learned how to take care of myself and be happy with who I was without a life partner. I learned how to make my own decisions, support myself emotionally and financially and model resilience and determination for my young son. I learned to be my own source of happiness and be strong in my resolution to not be taken advantage of or walked over. When the job I loved blew up, I learned how to pick myself up, find new work to love and I found the courage to follow a long-held dream. I found the fortitude to leave my young son and offer him the gift of learning to separate his identity from his momma’s and I moved far away to find new dreams and a new future that looked nothing like the one I’d left. I believe that the initial failure of that job allowed me to share and regift my dream when my son chose to move to Colorado and pursue a life that looked nothing like the life I would have dreamed for him. And, yet, it is perfect for the man he’s become. It was only my failure that allowed me to model following a new path and forging new dreams. About five years after my move to Virginia, I was caught up in a scandal built on an unsuspecting relationship with a sociopath that left behind scorched earth, not just for me, but for many others caught in this person’s web of lies and deceit. And, once again I found a way to not lose myself in the sadness, grief, and rage, but instead I forged a new path … building my own consulting business that I still run eight years later. The last eight years have been tough, but I do work I love every day and every day I am grateful for the life I have and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

It’s always been the failures that have allowed me to discover what I was made of … grit. Grit, resilience and determination that is built out of the perseverance, fortitude and courage of my ancestors. So, while failure might not be one of my best gifts, it’s certainly been the greatest.

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