This is Where I Hold You

I walked into the spa that day in August, with the intent of purchasing a gift certificate for my roommate but leaving with more. You asked where I would be spending my vacation and as the topic of Michigan came up, I felt something wasn’t right. You barely knew me so crying in front of a stranger seemed impossible and yet you did. Would I judge you? Would I find the situation uncomfortable? The words kept bubbling out and between the subject change and tone of voice, I saw it unraveling. You had recently lost your dad and were visiting back home to attend his funeral or wrap up loose ends, the details too difficult to discuss.

As we went through the motions, I wanted to tell you more than I did and I’m sorry if my approach showed uncertainity. As I turned to leave I said, “I’m so sorry about your dad. I lost my mom to cancer a couple years ago. I know how hard it is, especially during the initial part of it all.” And in that sharing of grief, I was unsure. Everyone manages it uniquely and I wasn’t wanting to push too far. You walked out from behind the counter and….you hugged me. In your hurt you gave more, telling me I was a sweetheart and thanking me for stopping in. I felt the depth of your beautiful soul in that instance.

It wasn’t the right time but through all of this I wanted to let you know that it came full circle. You see, I was in the airport when I found out my mom had passed away while on the way to the hospital. I could hardly collect myself to purchase tissues from the airport store, with what felt like puddles of tears forming beneath me as I hurried away from the cashier asking me what was wrong. I didn’t want to talk. Or think. Or breathe. Or feel. The rug had been ripped from underneath me and how dare anyone try to make sense of that. And as I was standing in line to board the plane back home, she came over to me, with an intent so pure that I could only be kind. She asked if I needed a hug and in her simple inquiry as to why I was hurting, I poured out my story. About losing my mom and the cancer.

Did you know that she knew? That Anna Rose read the tears blending into the freckles as someone who needed a crutch, however briefly? For all the onlookers and strangers hurrying by, this one high-school aged girl traveling back to Washington gave me just enough strength for the plane ride home. It was March when I lost my mom and Anna had only lost her 13-year old sister to a car crash that December. She hugged me. She prayed for me and my family during the flight. And she waited for me when we deplaned, just to make sure I was alright. For every loss there is a lifting, someone who was placed in our lives as the tiniest glimmer of light in unending darkness.

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Age, sex, gender, religion – None of that matters when it comes to pain. We share those burdens, those that we wish we’d never been chosen to carry.

This is where I hold you. Where I carry your hurt inside of mine, reminding you that even though it isn’t going anywhere soon, time and kindness will assist in tucking it away. It will be secure and ever-present, the explanations to strangers becoming easier and perhaps, one day, you will walk someone else through a hurt of their own.

 

Shout Out Saturday – Thank You Dad

Today is the day of celebration for the man I call my dad. He has given me so much in this life and I couldn’t be more grateful. So, I thought, who better than to give a shout out to on this beautiful Saturday?? I’d like to reflect on some of the most important lessons I’ve learned from my father, which I can only hope to pass on to my (possibly in the futurish one day) children as well:

  • Hard work still counts for something. No matter what you are doing in this life, whether you went to college or not, people will take you seriously if you show you have ambition. Words are just words and a degree is useless if you don’t have the willingness to roll up your sleeves and pay your dues. Even if you’re coming fresh out of college, this can still mean you might have to accept a lower position than you had planned on, but you have the potential of moving up quicker. (I know, we were all led to believe otherwise.)
  • Manners matter. Ask anybody in my little hometown of Circle, Montana and they will tell you that my sister and I were the most well-mannered girls there. It sounds silly I know. People used to tell my dad all the time when we’d go into bars (it was eastern Montana), restaurants, or businesses around town. There is something to be said for being polite and treating people with the respect that you’d wish to receive yourself. In the age of technology, we can become disconnected from others, including our ability to recognize the simple fact that we are all human. Being polite is most certainly not a thing of the past.
  • Parents are not your friends. (At least not for awhile.) My dad is an ex-Marine and was one of the strictest parents ever. Where was I five minutes after the movies, dances, and other school functions ended? Well, I was home of course and if I wasn’t then I was probably out of my mind because the wrath of my father wasn’t something one wanted to deal with once, let alone ever, in this lifetime. It sucked and I thought my dad was unfair. Of course I thought those things; I was a teenage girl. What teenager knows what’s good for them? Parents are protectors, mentors, teachers, providers, and are in charge of all around making sure you’re a decent human being who will contribute to society. So there’s that. In no way are they obligated to be your friend. The day will come where you cross that divide and can talk to your parents about life. You might even call them for advice because you realize they know a lot more than you. They kind of become your friend and they just get to relish in this awesome person that you’ve become, that they were a part of. Nothing is better than having a beer with my dad and getting to know him as more than my dad, but as a person. That’s pretty special.
  • Make time for the moments. I absolutely hated getting up at 4:30 in the morning to go hunting. People should not be awake in the morning when it is dark outside. That isn’t normal at all. We ate breakfast, packed our cooler for the day, and would head out. I fell asleep in the truck for most of the morning until my dad would wake me up to tell me that there was a deer nearby. At the time, it was just hunting with my dad, just like we always did. But, I learned to drive on those back-roads. That’s where I got my first deer, a buck, and my dad was so proud that we had to stop at all the bars to show everybody in town. Whether we were fishing, hunting, or just spending family time together on the weekend, all of it mattered to my dad. While I couldn’t see it then, I’m so thankful for all of those memories now.
  • Just be happy and don’t give a damn about anybody else. My father has never given one iota about what other people think of him. Obviously, this can be rather embarrassing as a teenager when he is singing loudly in the aisles of the grocery store or partaking in a variety of fatherly shenanigans. And, it most certainly was. I wouldn’t undo any of it though. I’ve always been fiercely independent and my father has only solidified my belief that happiness is found internally. No matter where you live or what you do, that spark is something you must ignite within yourself. Nobody else will make that happen so leave your pity party and make your own happiness, whatever that means for you.

Happy birthday to my wonderful dad!!! I love you so much.