It Just Wasn't in the Plan

I heard from a friend I hadn't spoken to in awhile. She mentioned she divorced last week.  I threw out some flip comments.  What is there really to say she hasn't already heard or thought herself but then the next morning, I found myself still thinking about her.  So I sent her another message of support. She responded, "I'll be okay.  It just wasn't in the plan."

I think at some point most people find out that what you plan, may not always be what happens.  And sometimes, it's a rather unwelcome surprise.  Unemployment?  That will screw up your plan.  A sudden, life changing illness? Better come up with a new plan in a hurry.  A baby born with issues you neither understand nor may be ready to cope with?  Buckle up because you may not be the one doing the planning.

I recently reconnected with a college friend. I hadn't heard from him since 1987 or 1988. Last I knew he was young, single and his biggest concern was most likely finals.  Now, he's the dad of triplet toddlers. One of whom he visits with a handful of flowers to place on her grave.

All three born too soon- but one tiny little girl was frailer than her sisters. He says it's changed him to his core. Now his Facebook feed is dominated by stories from the NICU or tales of triumph.  A daughter who eats. One who handled a sleep study like a champ. Bonding with his babies came a finger touch at a time.  They couldn't be held for a long, long while. His plans probably change every day,

So what do you do when your plan is suddenly stamped "REJECTED"?

Everything is planned.  College plans. Wedding plans.  Buy a house plan. Baby plans. Buy a bigger house plan. But life has a funny way of interfering with plans.  I miss my friend Sara.  She was a crazy one.  Wild and hard working.  Vivacious and athletic. She died in her back yard.  A brain aneurysm in her early forties.  That was not in the plan.

How do you let go of a plan?  Takes courage for sure. Resilience helps- hope you have some.   Maybe prayer helps. Maybe friends help.  Maybe a nice glass of wine helps.

Today I read a few chapters of  Number the Stars to fourth graders. It's a  young girl's story of coming of age during World War II in Denmark and her role in helping to smuggle Danish Jews to Sweden away from the Nazis who controlled Denmark.

In one scene Annmarie watches as a group of Jews gets ready to be smuggled out. The Jews were bundled in tattered quilts and worn coats from strangers before getting on a boat in the darkest of night.  But a young mother has no coat for her infant.  Annmarie's mother disappears and comes back with a sweater belonging to Annmarie.   It's much too big but it's made of red wool and can be wrapped around the baby probably twice keeping the newborn warm.  Annmarie watches her mother bundle the baby and then fasten the heart shaped buttons.

Crossing the sea at night without knowing what your future holds, getting a divorce, losing a child, those all require a faith in the unknown.  Faith might be just as important as a plan. And a little heart can't hurt.


  1. I always wonder what prompts your blogs and drives your creative process. I always look forward to seeing where your mind goes and where it ends up. We all have plans in the beginning that get foiled by life. How we deal with it shapes who we are. A universal topic! Keep writing.

  2. I have heard from many friends that I have an abnormally high tolerance for chaos. I do not think that is the case I just learned as a child that just because my mother is planing to take us to the beach in the morning does not mean we will get there. She would make the sandwiches, pack the car, get us all up earlier and fill up the car with gas but until we we are playing in the sand and swimming in the ocean it was only a "plan" . To this day I drive people crazy because they say I am always changing plans at the last minute but as I see it the outside forces of life are what changes and the plan is only just that a plan.

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  4. This is just like what they teach you in prenatal class as you prepare for the arrival of a baby. You have your ideal birth plan in mind, but you have to be prepared to abandon all of it on the actual day as circumstances change. You have to adjust and hope that everything works itself out in the end.

  5. Oh wow-- we read Number the Stars in my Children's Lit class in college; it was incredibly sad, reading from an adult's perspective, as compared to when we read The Giver when I was in fourth grade. I love Lois Lowry's writing, but going back through her writing, it's devastating to imagine what her characters went through.

    It's so heartbreaking when something doesn't go through as planned. When I moved to NC three years ago, I had a plan: I was going to get married to this guy I was dating, and we were going to be transferred to Hawaii, where he was supposed to go next, and I would live out the next few years writing a blog or having a YouTube channel or whatever. Clearly, with what happened... I'm still here, and he's there, and that's great-- but three years ago, if you'd told me that was going to happen, I wouldn't have believed you. I think everything works out in the end, as it's supposed to-- I'm now about to be engaged to my best friend, and all I needed was a little faith :)

  6. You write so beautifully! This was touching, and so so true, thank you!

  7. I try not to plan too much out any more. I don't want to be devastated when things go too wrong if that makes sense


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