Recently, I went on holiday with my oldest friend. You know the kind of friend, the one who is really like a sister, well, you bicker like sisters at least.
I never thought I’d say this but one of the highlights of the trip for me was the soundtrack. The best of Dolly Parton. My BFF decided that we should benefit from Dolly’s enchanting storytelling at every convenient moment. I’m sure our neighbours must’ve loved us. I scoffed initially then succumbed to that buxom songstress’s charms.

You see, there isn’t much in this life that Dolly hasn’t written a song about. And this summer, I’ve needed some Dolly wisdom.

This is the summer we began fertility treatment and I suddenly wanted to escape my life. This is the summer when feeling fragile became the norm. Because this summer, infertility has pushed our marriage to the edge and I’ve struggled to keep perspective.

As the delightful Dolly says:

If I had wings I would fly away from
All my troubles, all my thing
And I would fly to a place of comfort
Heaven knows I need a change
If I had wings, Lord give me wings

Oh, I’ve had my share of sorrow…
Walked alone, alone to road
I could have used a new tomorrow
If I had wings I’d make it so
One cannot predict the future
One cannot undo the past
But we can make the present useful
Build the future that will last

As we embarked on the emotional roller coaster of doctor’s visits, scans, probes, insemination and waiting, my strength failed me. You see, all I wanted to do was find a place of comfort. A place where none of this mattered. Where infertility wasn’t a part of my story.

And I did escape. I walked out on our home when I couldn’t find words to express my anger, my hurt, my disappointment. I stormed along the street telling God everything that He was getting wrong, lamenting, weeping and then I reached the end of the road. Literally. I could go no further. So I sat on the curb and cried. I needed to cry. I needed to be released from my pretense. I needed to be angry with God. And as I wept, I heard deep in my heart: “Love the life I’ve given you”.

That wasn’t the message I hoped for but it was the message I needed. How much time do I waste thinking about the life I don’t have? The things I am missing? When in reality, the abundance of good things are going unnoticed in my own life.

As I returned to my life, the same life I walked out on, I tried to look at it with fresh eyes. We can’t undo the past but we can make the present useful. And looking at my beautiful broken life, I noticed that it is a remarkable love story.

A love story that I have neglected. Because as I was dwelling on what was lacking in my life, my friends where showering me with love. When I finally admitted how hard I was finding life, I was lavished with love. With understanding.

One friend sent me a text which said:
“I’m not surprised some days you don’t feel as positive as you want to be. Friends are here for the bad times as well as the good. Your journey is our journey and if I only ever could be there to celebrate your joys, I wouldn’t be a very good friend. Always here for you, we need to get through this together. Love you more than cheesy chips.”

What a joy it is to be loved more than cheesy chips! The love story enfolding in my life is showing new nuances. I love my husband but our marriage is being held together by the tenderness and prayers of an army of friends. I want to build a future that lasts even if it doesn’t look the way I thought it would.

Thank you Dolly for being there this summer. Thank you friends for weeping with me, calling, praying, supporting, feeding, understanding and reminding me that even if I tried to escape, you would go with me. I’m slowly embracing my love story and continuing to look at my life the way I should. With gratitude, honesty and the challenge of letting my loved ones be a full participant on the journey.

Love is like a butterfly
As soft and gentle as a sigh
The multi-coloured moods of love are like it’s satin wings
Love makes your heart feel strange inside
It flutters like soft wings in flight
Love is like a butterfly, a rare and gentle thing

Dolly Parton, Butterfly