By Tonya Brantley
Good-bye 2008, hello 2009! To those of you who have chosen to make a New Year resolution, I wish you the best of luck attaining your goal.
This past year has been one of the most challenging and difficult years of my life. It was also one of the best and most rewarding years of my life. From the loss of loved ones and from my divorce, to family ties and promises kept, overall 2008 was filled with moments and memories I will always remember.
As I reflect on my "life markers" of this past year, I am reminded of one in particular that made me stop and rethink about things from a different perspective... through a child's eyes.
This revelation "hit me" when I was at my in-laws' house on Christmas day. I was standing outside on the back porch talking to Lacie, my 10 year old niece / sister-in-law (by adoption). While hiding her face behind her arms propped up on the banister with a white hoodie over her head, I was struck by the look in her eyes as we were discussing her school project.
She wrote and illustrated a thirteen page book that was printed and professionally bound into a beautiful hardback storybook. I am very proud of her accomplishment and I was surprised to see that she didn't write about her favorite games, toys or activities as some children her age would, but instead the title of Lacie's book is "My Wonderful Family." I was even more proud to see that I was included in her book.
Next to the beautifully drawn full color picture of me with a big red heart above my head was the following excerpt: "My great sister-in-law Tonya is fun to play with. We have a lot of things in common and we like animals. We love cats and dogs. She is 29 years old (I'm actually 31, but 29 sounds a lot better). I love her very much. The way she became my sister-in-law, she married my brother. They were good to each other. Then there were problems. They got divorced. That made me sad. But everything is cool now."
As you can imagine, her words touched me deeply and I suddenly realized how my divorce had affected her. I assured her that no matter what happened or what may happen in the future, I'll always love her and be a part of her life. And with a smile and look into my eyes, she assured me that she knew her place in my life.