I just woke up. It’s still dark out. Morning is here, but the neighborhood is quiet.

I use the bathroom at our home before planning to crawl back under the covers to catch more sleep before work.

I glance at myself in the mirror before stopping to look more closely. That pesky wrinkle by the side of my eye is more defined from being squished by the pillow from the night’s slumber.

Next to the mirror is a photo of my younger sister and me from nearly two decades prior. The younger me is smiling. She didn’t have any wrinkles on her face.

I try to remember her, the gal from the photo. She was the girl before I married my husband, finished grad school, lived in this house, started a family.

She had yet to experience some broken and mended dreams, changed paths, renewed hope and strength, extraordinary love, amazing relationships, lasting memories.

She was simply a girl at the beach with her sister soaking up the sun embracing the day. I do know she was always a dreamer and appreciated life and those who surrounded her.

She may not have had the wrinkles. But, that comes from experiencing life, from having the privilege of growing older, from having passion about what matters to you at any given moment, from understanding the real importance of life, to embracing the gifts that surround us.

I would like to think this particular wrinkle is from the enjoyment of life— laugh lines as they call them.

That girl in the photo in her bikini had so many amazing experiences in front of her.

Would I give her advice, that younger carefree version of me?

As the warmth of my current blessings came rushing into my heart, I couldn’t imagine not having all that I am grateful for today.

Once we have traveled down a road we can’t change our footprints from where we have been. We can however change our paths or take a turn. We can follow our hearts— like I did and do.

We can appreciate the wrinkles that show years of laughter, love and living.

Could I have used some face cream to prevent such a prominent wrinkle that seemingly tries to reflect my years? Possibly. But, what difference would that make to the gal in the mirror, to the person I am today? As wrinkles in time are only defined by the moment we are in.

*Melissa can be reached at melissacox2009@yahoo.com.

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