I think about this quote a lot (see image). I remember reading it for the first time in the book (Tiny Beautiful Things, my favorite) and having to pause and digest it because I have often found myself haunted by the ghost ships of paths I didn't take.
I'm pretty good at accepting my decisions and moving forward/on once I make them, but there are times when I linger in the "what if"s. What if she hadn't broken my heart? What if I'd stayed in that relationship? What if I'd moved to Nashville instead of gone to grad school? What if I'd listened to my gut in that situation? What if I'd gotten pregnant in some other circumstance? What if I'd never started my own practice?
Sometimes it makes me feel badly because I really think my life would have been just as wonderful had I made another decision when I found out I was pregnant. I think the alternate universe - where my plan to never have children, and to travel and have a lifetime of adventures and sleep when I wanted and never worry about pre-school <etc> came to fruition - is a very fine place. I imagine I would have been very happy there.
I'll admit that sometimes I glimpse that sister life and I long for it.
But ultimately, this is the life I chose, and I am grateful in an inarticulate, overwhelming way to be living it. Being Zoe's mama is nothing short of a miracle. I know I talk about that a lot, but I suspect some of you that are parents can understand, and the rest of you can hopefully just empathize with the idea that some things are more than language can account for.
I think it's important that I know about the sister life, because it makes every profound moment of joy and connection with this tiny person I made even sweeter to know there's a universe parallel to this one where she is but a twinkle in my eye. Or where her soul landed somewhere else, in another family. (Whatever you want to think/feel/believe about it).
I can say with all honesty that I'm glad she's here but that I'm also glad had a choice.
I don't meant that in a political way, I mean it to be over-arching: I am glad I have had so many choices. I am grateful for every hard decision I ever made, and I trust that all of them guided me in the direction of this iteration of a life. This iteration of my life is as satisfying as anything I'd dared to hope for. All because of the decisions I've made, and the unexpected detours.
So I invite all of you to salute your sister lives from the shores of the lives you've chosen. But remember, if there are mistakes you believe you've made or decisions you're not comfortable with, in many cases you have the option to go back and try and fix things. We have more control over which life we live than we often give ourselves credit for.