One of my best friends is in labor right now with her first child. I wrote this for her.

The magnets at the Hallmark store say:
Life’s a Journey.

My aunt had that one on her fridge. And also,
a mug that said something like:
Life isn’t about weathering the storm,
it’s about learning to dance in the rain.

These aphorisms are supposed
to make you feel good
when what you really feel is that
Life. Totally. Sucks.
(They don’t sell that magnet at the Hallmark Store, though.
I looked.)

Instead they say:
It’s about the process,
not the product.
As if to say: Hey, you should be grateful
you’re getting these hard knocks!
Because, really, think about all of the bonuses
you’re getting in exchange for your pain!:
→Extra Interesting Scenery on Your Journey!
→Scores of Wisdom to Pass on to Others!
→New Dance Steps!!

You can understand why people buy those magnets and mugs
for their friends to cheer them up
when they’re going through something hard.
I admit; I was tempted to buy one for you.

I happen to know well that when you lose big,
when you lose hard,
you kinda want to feel like it was for something.

But the truth is,
it was for something;
and it wasn’t for anything at all.
(Unfortunately, this message doesn’t fit neatly on a magnet
or a mug:)

You can reap
the gifts of your darkest days,
become the wisest, zen-est owl in the flock,
and still the brutal truth burns bright:
There is no control;
and winning, ultimately, isn’t in the cards for any of us.

Well, today, my friend, is a birth day,
and the Universe
now offers you a fresh dictum.
A welcome addendum, if you will,
to the one that’s come before:

Though we don’t deserve it,
and will never be able to control it,
A beautiful thing can happen.
(And it’s not because you danced the hardest in the rain,
or studied your grief to learn the most lessons.)
Call it blessing.

A stroke of luck.
As you did in sorrow,
you must again,

give your whole self over now:
to tenderness,
to joy,
to unconditional wonder.