Thirty Years Later

I don’t know why people seek out fortune tellers. Why would you want to know the heartaches that lie ahead, the assurance that life will take your spouse and body and dreams?

He will be with his family tonight, Doctor, when he goes home, the deathless man says. Why should I tell him that tomorrow he is going to die? So that, on his last night with his family, he will mourn himself?…Suddenness. His life, as he is living it – well, and with love, with friends – and then suddenness. Believe me, Doctor, if your life ends in suddenness you will be glad it did, and if it does not you will wish it had.

Not me, I say. I do not do things, as you say, suddenly. I prepare, I think, I explain.
~ The one quotable text from Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife I can’t recommend

We hope, with foreknowledge, to hedge our bets, if only mentally. We like to imagine that we can avert, if not preempt, the undesirable – in the least, prepare ourselves and explain it. But the suffering is bad enough. Do we really need to expect it, too? And the glad blessings? Will their surety really help us live differently? Halfway up the California mountain thirty years later, I look down at the girl I left behind on the other side of the country. I wish I could promise her the thousand joys she dare not believe, the love in unexpected places, friends and a mess of food around her table. I wish I could teach her to nurture herself, admonish her away from her follies. But far and past, she is out of my hands. And she is so frustratingly, so helplessly her. She won’t do it any other way.


Life hangs by a prayer but you take so much for granted in your unhappiness. You have community and, for all their sins, parents who cherish you.

Stupid girl. You don’t listen. You need to take better care of yourself. You eat too much ice cream. You can fool others and even yourself, but not your body. One day you will have to learn to eat, sleep, live all over again. These brick apartments suffocate you but one day you’ll mark your own path. You always do. You will drive through a painting of Montana mountain and sky, and survey the gleaming Pacific. There are many, many good people ready at the crossroads of your life to look out for you. I am sorry that life will become so unyielding you will stop singing for 10 years.

There’s a man waiting to find you. He wants to build you a new life and provide all you need. You don’t know the cost and gift of marriage. The walk down the aisle is just expensive trimming. Though he’ll disappoint you many times over, it’s that he chooses you everyday. You will squeeze and crush the heart he left in your hand. And in his eyes you will still be enough.

You will experience the power and genius of God. You will feel fingers and toes in your womb, touching you from the inside. Those hands and feet will one day come to refresh your grave, mark the place of your memory. She was here. You will put your baby to your breast in the rocking chair, seat of the highest office in the world. You will sing again. Sacrifice is a privilege, because it means a purpose greater than yourself. But you will embitter your child too, as your parents did you. The love of parents, our broken inheritance.

One day the lights will go out in your home and you will read to your men by candlelight. They will love the inflections of your voice.

I didn’t think people could change but you are proof. I’m proud of you! You will grow less rigid, softer with others, having learned how foolish you can be. Wisdom works backward. Your life will be a desert’s bloom, well tolerant of drought. And before the sun has set on your dreams, right here on the edge of this switchback, you will learn it is safe to stop hurting. Learn that you are more than your fears, more than your boy, more than your most unworthy moments, more than your achievements.

The loyalty of friends, the forgiveness of family, You will be wanted and needed. These are your gifts of grace. And the words. You will claim your place in a virtual world, a very real world, and somehow in all your struggles and humanness, make many people laugh and think. You will matter. Will it take 30 years for you to know it is All Right to breathe, to smile, to trust that life is worth it?

You’ve done well, my dear. Closing the wrong doors to love, choosing the right one. You will bring a beautiful, thoughtful boy into this world. And though life has knocked you flat beyond counting, you keep climbing. We will look each other in the eyes and I will tell you everything when you reach me.


106 thoughts on “Thirty Years Later

  1. Well, I am what some would call a ‘fortune teller’. However Tarot cards cannot predict the future. Instead they reveal the heart, the spirit, in the places where blind spots are hindering us. Symbolism is a powerful tool to reveal hearts (the Bible is a prime example of that). What I do as a Tarot reader is use the cards for an inroad to a counseling session. Straight up truth. I want to help people and the Tarot is a perfect way for me to do that.

    The cards have never shown me that anyone was going to age, get sick, or die (life already promises everyone these things). Instead they show me my fears and other things in my life that are holding me back from living fully. They remind me of what I can be grateful for and celebrate. Most of all, they show me that the Spirit is always tracking where I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m going – a reminder that I never, ever have anything to fear. ❤

    Much love and light,

    P.S. If you ever want proof of what I'm saying, feel free to request a reading. 😉

  2. My friend is dying from stage 4 cancer, she says knowing her time is limited has almost paralyzed her. She has lost all motivation and routine.
    It breaks my heart.

    I think I would rather not know….

    • If such a sentence comes to me, I want to know. I want to finish what I have been given to do before my days are ended.

      • I love that attitude, Beth. I was speaking to a different angle on this (though your comment is entirely appropriate), how the tapes we run in our head become self-fulfilling prophecy in the rest of our body. It’s how God made us, with a powerful mind-body connection. I know many who have gone on to spurn “expert” opinion on their condition (sometimes made in error) and thrive or extend their life, to the great puzzlement of drs.

  3. I like the Bible perspective where we are advised to live a day at a time and make it a fulfilling one being happy with the result at the end of each day. Why would you want to know what may happen to you personally tomorrow? Of course there has to be a plan in life but if those plans don’t work out try to achieve your goals another way or just accept that’s not for you and move on. Do your best to put plans in place that others relying on you will not be put at risk should your life journey end. But whatever your lot day by day as you seek meaning in what you plan and do, be happy and kind to those around you.

  4. Of course I love this. Tears came to my eyes about the man who chooses you every day. That is such a precious gift. And some wise souls believe psychics can only tell us one version of our future–that we choose among many. There’s something to ponder as you try to fall asleep:).

    • I love that, Brad. I’d love to read it! Ha ha ha, but no pressure if it’s for your eyes only. And I appreciate the keen reading. It was a rare – and therefore powerful – experience affirming and honoring my journey and broken, durable self. Thanks so much for the good word.

  5. You may not recommend it but this stuck: Not me, I say. I do not do things, as you say, suddenly. I prepare, I think, I explain.
~ The one quotable text from Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife I can’t recommend

  6. What a beautiful piece. It certainly resonated with me. I often look back at my life and wonder about the journey I’ve made and the paths I’ve taken. Some good, some forgotten.

  7. I came across your blog, and your beautifully written post. It is not often we as mothers project so far forward to imagine our children growing to ripe old age and then after that. But of course you are correct as 50, a 100 years of life is all but a mere speck in history, in the overall universe.

    I have been to psychic readings – professional who have worked for the police force using their skills for example to help find missing people. A smart psychic will find a way to impart less than positive news. A way in which the receiver can gracefully deal with it and in many cases find it helpful.

    If we knew we had limited time left, surely we would use our time more carefully, love more and take more risks. But we do have limited time. All of us.

    • “If we knew we had limited time left, surely we would use our time more carefully, love more and take more risks.” Right? We really do delude ourselves into thinking our share of time is endless. I don’t think any other creature lives at such odds with itself. We know but pretend we don’t. Thank you for taking the time.

  8. What an intense post. I have often written to my “former self”, and it always enlightens ! In a world that embraces the shallow, thank you for always being the kind of writer that embraces depth. I read your posts twice, D. ❤️

    • Hi V! I’ve missed you and hoped you were all right, not writing over there. You are too much (twice, you say)! Isn’t it an interesting exercise? It’s been over 10 yrs since I last wrote to myself – and that was a powerful experience. I was also not yet a mother. Thank you. You always come bearing gifts, never empty-handed.


  9. Having a disease that impacts the rest of my life, I’m glad I know. For not knowing consumed all of my time and knowing consumes far less of that time. I wish I could say that I live every moment to the fullest, I’m just more aware of time.

    • I really appreciate this. Knowledge certainly gives us direction, and diminishes the fear that attends the unknown. Isn’t that interesting we still don’t live as we ought? Hard heads, we are.

  10. I’m glad this “girl” can look back and see growth and good and love she doesn’t think she deserves. Remember too that suffering is what perfected your Savior and can polish you into a gem fit for His service.

  11. A wonderful perspective on your younger self. I remember when I was planning to go to graduate school when I was in my late 40’s I thanked the student I was in my 20’s whose shoulders I was standing on. She gave me the confidence I could make it. I did.

  12. I have missed your writing, D, and what I have lost in time away you have made up with such supple prose here. I would rather not know what lies ahead of me. It’s God’s plan, not mine. Sure I do the foot work, but He guides me to His work. We have fun, we falter, we cry, we hold hands, and we go back it again. I love the lens in which you approach this. Marvelous.
    Thank you.

    • If you were a different character, you could get away with so much given that flair for compliments of yours that rings so tastefully like flattery. Thank you, friend. Adam and Eve wanted even more knowledge than the wisdom of simplicity and beauty that hedged their perfect lives. We do well to manage our present load.

  13. Beautiful story Diana. I suppose there’s two sides of thought about having a fortune done, like the story says, those that are curious to know and those that may receive what they don’t wish to hear feeling as though they’ve been warned enough to change their fate. I’m always curious to hear a tidbit of the future, yet apprehensive, not wanting to hear anything bad. Better I say away. 🙂

  14. It doesn’t seem easy for you these last few years, HW.
    As for the fortune telling option, like you, I haven’t been piqued to try it nor interested. Life is really living now and living with gladness. And the latter I say tinged with sadness after loss of father, sister..

    • I appreciate all the thoughtful reading, Jean. I’ve said no one would believe my memoir. They’d think it overkill. And yes, the burdens come. We don’t need to go running to meet them.


  15. Wow. Wow. Wow. This post is so beautifully written and it captivated me from beginning to end. You managed to break my heart and in the next breath heal it. This is writing at its finest, and I am so incredibly thankful to have read this. Diana. Honestly, just wow.

  16. I love the word play with opposites. It reads to me that we cannot exist without the balance that dark brings to light, weakness to strength, constraint to full on freedom, and so on. Life is circular and we must give in to all that sphere encompasses, over and again. Beautiful writing!

    • I love the truths and structures you extrapolated, N. The opposites are everywhere in the universe, even in our own body. In fact, Jesus often used them in His teachings. I hope you took something concrete away. Thanks for such a thoughtful read.

  17. Reblogged this on The Dependent Independent and commented:
    “Will it take 30 years for you to know it is All Right to breathe, to smile, to trust that life is worth it?”

    These are the kinds of questions I could ask myself.

    A profound and beautifully written post of personal growth by Di.

    • I love that, A, that these are questions a man could ask himself, too. Now tHAt is connecting with all readers. I appreciate the share and even more so, knowing this hit home. But I hope you find yourself a little closer to happiness for it. (I know, easier said…)

      • Actually so many things. Quite apart from what you write, but also how you write. I loved how you interwove it with the possibilities if people were to seek out the knowledge of what is next before it is time. It really made me think. I often (and I know absolutely wrongly) imagine the future – what is to come, sadly (and wrongly) many of the sadnesses to come – which are just part of being human and cannot be avoided, such as losing loved ones. A completely pointless pursuit which will only make the now harder as well as that reality when it comes. I also really love the line “Sacrifice is a privilege, because it means a purpose greater than yourself.” I believe in this very strongly, yet I am not sure I have yet found the sacrifice I am meant for. That said, recently I’ve had some clues and I am seeking guidance. It may be emerging 🙂

  18. I have found just a handful of truths that withstand the test of time.

    Life is filled with wonder, Liberty is priceless.
    On balance, joy and love win out over pain and sorrow.
    The only important words in our Universe: I love you.

    A proverb concludes:
    “Fall seven times. Stand up eight.”

    Seek peace,


  19. When we’re living what we perceive to be right and wrong becomes confused. Our perception of reality becomes blurred. But when we look back it all makes sense.
    Thanks for the light.

  20. Pingback: The Weekly Headlines – My Daily Musing

  21. What a thoughtful and beautiful post Diana. It’s amazing how much we realize how little we knew about life but only by looking back. “Wisdom works backward” indeed. Well done. 🙂

  22. What a lovely post 💕. Lots of self reflection which is the second post I’ve read on this today so I think the universe is trying to tell me something 😊. I’ve never been to a fortune teller I think I’d rather keep bumbling along rather than try to make things meet a prediction.

  23. Beautiful. These are the lines that resonated with me. “You will put your baby to your breast in the rocking chair, seat of the highest office in the world.” – To feed another from your own body is a moment of magical honor and connection like no other.
    In addition, because I am a poet I connected with, “Wisdom works backward. Your life will be a desert’s bloom, well tolerant of drought.”

    • It’s always special to hear which parts spoke to whom. Nursing really is so profound, Ali. You are literally attached to this life that is dependent on you. It is the nutrients and energy you’ve produced that is growing the brain, synapses, muscles, bones and billions of cells in that precious life.

      I marvel at the resilience of the human body. We suffer years of trauma, neglect, self-abuse and can still function and raise families. Thank you for the thoughtful read, friend.

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