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A life-changing year in review

For those who feel their lives are stuck in one place or dreams may never come true, allow me to lead by example.

I can show what a difference a year makes.

One year ago today, change was happening in my life. And there was no stopping it. With the help of a few of my most resourceful Carbondale guy friends who know how to quickly pack a trailer, I was loading up my life’s belongings from storage. The next morning, I would catch a ride back to Indiana with my friends Ben and Nicole, leaving Colorado and the valley. This was a place I called home for 12 years, some of the most integral years of my life. I’m a better person for heading west and spending all of my thirties in the mountains.

The friends I made and the places I explored changed me forever.

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Home was calling me, a feeling I couldn’t shake after losing my grandparents in the same year and wanting to help my mom any way I could. Leaving paradise — mountain life is most certainly that when the pieces fall into place — is never easy. I still have dreams at night of rafting on the Colorado River, waves crashing over my head as I excitedly paddle downstream with friends. I also think of Mount Sopris, the not-quite-a-fourteener, mystical mountain in our valley we all love, often. I always felt as if I was under her watch.

Sometimes I feel as if I still am.

A year ago, Steve and I were still in dating mode. He gave me a bouquet of white lilies when I left for Colorado. I imagine there was a tiny fear inside him that hoped I didn’t get back out to the mountains, change my mind, and want to stay. Our relationship was still new, in the honeymoon stage, but we both knew we had found a special kind of love in each other. I knew after the first date.

I’m pretty sure he did, too.

Driving the thousand miles cross-country to come back home, I thought about the life and all the friends I made in Colorado. I promised myself I would someday return to live where the rivers converge, hopefully when I retire. I wondered what my new life with Steve and his preschool-aged son would become. I thought about my hometown friends in the Midwest and all the new memories we would make in this new phase of my life.

The change just felt right.

I came home to a special Christmas with Steve and his son, and we welcomed in a new year that would bring us closer than we could ever imagine. There was a surprise engagement, and within the next few months we would discover a baby boy was on the way, due in September. I had always wanted to be a mother, but thought I would not be so lucky in life.

Life lesson No. 174: never say never.

My pregnancy went by quickly. I was lucky not to suffer morning sickness, but I couldn’t help but feel tired often. Naps became my best friend. By May, we had welcomed a new border collie puppy named Sweetie to the family. That would be a test run on getting on a baby’s schedule. In hindsight it was nothing like the real thing. No one ever knows what it’s like to have a baby.

Until they have a baby.

By the Fourth of July, I was feeling quite pregnant and the reality of becoming a mother was upon me. I was the happiest I had ever been. Steve and I planned to travel to Colorado for my friends’ wedding. As we were preparing for our last chance at a vacation before the baby —a babymoon, as it’s called — my water broke. I was put on bed rest in the hospital, five weeks, but a surprise arrival 10 days later would change all that. On July 18, we welcomed our little Will, a three-pound, two-ounce bundle of joy.

Life has never been the same.

These days, Will is pushing 13 pounds. Naps are still my best friend. And Steve and I have a love that has only grown stronger in all that we’ve been through together. A C-section birth can do that for a couple. A year ago, we hadn’t even passed gas in front of each other. Now he knows how miserable I become if I forget to drink my daily fiber supplement. Lucky guy. Lucky me.

See, dreams really do come true.

April E. Clark wishes Will a happy five-month birthday today. Love you, little buddy! She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail.com


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