Thanks to my dear friend Gerry B. for sharing this poem with me during a particularly rough time I experienced last year. Written by Veronica A. Shoffstall, the poem appeared in a “Dear Abby” column. While cleaning out my storage closet tonight (yes, the packing process begins!), I found it again and realized that the other strong women in my life may benefit from the words as much as I do.

“After a While”

After a while you learn

the subtle difference between

holding a hand

and chaining a soul

and you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning

and company doesn’t always mean security.

And you begin to learn

that kisses aren’t contracts and

presents aren’t promises

and you begin to accept your defeats

with your head up and your eyes ahead

with the grace of a woman

not the grief of a child

and you learn

to build all your roads on today

because tomorrow’s ground is

too uncertain for plans

and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn

that even sunshine burns

if you get too much

so plant your own garden

and decorate your own soul

instead of waiting

for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn

that you really can endure

that you really are strong

and you really do have worth

and you learn

and you learn

with every goodbye you learn.”

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