Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Letter to the Girl from Monday...

Dear cute 20 year old girl from the Mexican restaurant,

We heard you.

We heard you tell us to "shut up already" as we were paying our bill.  And we're sorry... sorry that you felt we interrupted your meal.  I promise, we never intended to disrupt anyone.  And also?  We weren't that loud.  Believe me... I've been to "Girls Night Out"s before where I know we've been obnoxious.  In fact, there have been nights I've felt like I should leave an apology to other patrons or staff because my friends and I have been too much.  But Monday was not one of those nights.

There were only 7 of us.  Not a huge crowd.  And all of us had "earned" the right to be there.  We'd come from long days where we'd taught children, or served the needy, or worked in an office, or helped at our kid's school.  We'd put in the hours at our jobs and in our homes.  We'd fed our families before we left, we'd made the proper provisions for bedtimes.  We'd answered emails and returned text messages.  We'd exercised and cleaned.  We'd dealt with crying kids and screaming kids and playful kids and needy kids.  We'd completed our days.  And we'd earned that first pitcher of margaritas.

And we shared stories.  We compared notes on children and schools and vacations.  We laughed at things that doctors should never say- in the midst of serious stories of pain and loss.  We made connections through our sisterhood of shared experiences and friends in common.

While we might not be as "cute" or as "young" or as "trendy" as you are, don't fault us.  Our laugh lines and stretch marks are earned.  Our hair may be colored- not to be "ironic"- but to cover some grey.  And we work a little harder to wear the short skirt that you might be able to slip on without thought.  We remember being your age- in fact, we talked about it just that night- and we honor where you are.  So while you may not give pause to where we are in life, you'll get there.

You'll have pain and hurt and joy and love.  You'll experience things you never thought you would.  You'll continue to make friends even though you are certain your best friend making days are over.  You'll look back at hairstyles you have/had and cringe.  You'll wonder why fads were ever popular... yes, maybe even some of those now.  You'll make choices you never imagined making.  You might even choose to drive a minivan- God forbid.  You'll get jobs.  You'll change jobs.  You'll wish things were easier.  You'll look at your body and wonder when you got those laugh lines and stretch marks.  You'll tell your hairdresser to stay away from the "ironic" blues and to go back to more your natural color.  You'll hit the gym so you can wear that short skirt... but honestly, you won't want to buy one *that* short anymore.  You'll have more grown-up taste.

You'll have friends you disagree with.  You'll have conversations that wound your heart and you'll swear not to bring up "that topic" with her again.  You'll see your ex and you'll be thankful for all you learned from that relationship, rather than being heartbroken/thrilled/anxious that you saw him or her in public.  You'll watch people fight on Facebook about topics that were awesome all-night thought provoking conversations once upon a time.  You'll wonder how your family can make you so crazy you could scream... yet you'll say things just as maddening as they do.  You'll find joy in gardening, baking, and cleaning.  You'll pay people to do those tasks because you realize you don't care to.  You'll have daily phone call check-ins with your BFF.  You'll go weeks without talking to her/him and know that something's just not right in your world without their voice.

At the end of the day, you'll look forward to getting together with other people feeling the same way.  People who are tired from making their mark on the world... and who just want to share a few laughs and some chips and salsa.  And you'll see some hipster giving you the stink eye and maybe you'll remember giving us the stink eye, too.  But when you hit that point, remember that you were once young and inwardly focused as well.  Wish that hipster well, and enjoy your second pitcher of margaritas.

You've earned it.

One of the "old" ladies who you "shushed" at the Mexican Restaurant.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Last night I posted this status update on Facebook:
Here's what I appreciate: Friends who let you be honest, even when it's ugly. Friends who let you cry, even when it's awkward. Friends who show up with treats and encouragement, even when it's easier to give "easy" answers. Friends who visit after years apart, even when there are lots of other people on their "need to see" list. Friends who continue to say "I don't know what to say", even when they may be tempted to "fix" it for you. ♥ I am blessed with good friends, y'all.

It was not a passive cry for help, or even a cry for the reader to become the kind of friend I was appreciating in those words.  It was just a way to say "thanks" to the handful of people who have reached my heart in the last few days.  Just yesterday, I had a girlfriend pop over for lunch (we knew she was coming, btw... I'm not doing well with unexpected visitors these days- which is hard for this social girl to comprehend) and gave me a super thoughtful gift.  Rather than tell you all about it now, I'll let you know that I am already crafting a "This kind of thing was helpful in my grief" blog post.  There have been tons out there (here's a great one with links to others... and this is my current favorite that I shared on FB last week), and I fully recommend you read them.  Whether or not you know someone currently grieving, you will... and it's good to have those kinds of "lists" stored in your back pocket.  I've actually been creating my own post for about a year.  I worried if I posted it too soon after Daddy died, it would be seen as a passive-aggressive way to respond to how specific people loved or didn't  love us through that ordeal... so I shied away from posting it.  Just know that it's coming, and while it's not a way to complain about or praise any one person, we have learned first hand in the last 2.5 years what is helpful.  And I'll also tell you that it's not a formula- what worked when Mary died is different from what I need with our most recent loss.  More to come on that...

Anyway, my friend came by with a great treat.  After that, Dan and I spent some time outside working on tackling our junkyard of a garage and our jungle of a garden.  When I went to Well of Mercy in the fall, it was "strongly encouraged" by my favorite nun friends and counselors that I spend time gardening.  The three "seasoned" women who I admire most for their faith are all avid gardeners... funny, I don't think that is just coincidence.  So I got my hands nasty dirty and planted some lovely plants and flowers... and as my skin soaked up the sun I felt good.  This is a huge accomplishment these days.  

We took a break in gardening/cleaning to sit on the deck with some friends of ours who were in town from St. Louis.  This is a couple I knew well from Chapel Hill.  In fact, in my previous life, I served on church staff with the husband of the couple.  Which made it that much more real as I told them of my spiritual struggle these days.  And the beauty of our afternoon was the freedom they gave for me to be honest.  They never told me the "right answers", they never reminded me of all the things I know to be True, they never sugar coated this season.  What they did do was laugh and talk and listen and say "we love you" multiple times during their stay.  (Sneak peak of that blog post I mentioned I'm crafting: they got it right.)

Earlier in the day my precious little one went to church with our friends.  I wasn't quite ready to be there myself, but I value E maintaining routine so we asked friends to take her.  Again, super helpful.  Our dinner last night was provided by friends... helpful.

All in all that sounds like a pretty good day, right?

And then the bottom fell out.  As we were getting E ready for bed, reminders of hurt crept in and I spent a good 30 minutes crying in our bedroom.  I rehashed my pain to Dan, he shared his, and we talked about how to go from here.  E, who is not a fan of her Mommy crying, came into my room with hugs and kisses, flowers (which she brought to me from downstairs, thinking I needed some flowers to cheer me up), and a T-rex puppet show, which made me laugh until my tears changed to those good laughing tears.

I share all of this with you now- not so that you will run straight to your phone to send me a "how are you?" text... although I've enjoyed every one I've gotten from you dear people.  I'm not saying all of this so that my inbox will be flooded with words of encouragement... although I get choked up daily at how great my circle of friends can be.  I don't feel the need to tell you every single thing that I'm thinking or feeling right now... in fact, my journal is serving that purpose quite well when I'm able to put words around it all.  But I share this with you to let you know we're still here.  And we're not okay yet.  And it might be some time before we are.  But we're here, and we appreciate your love and we thank you for allowing this awkwardness and yes, we love your babies and pregnancies and no, we're not mad that you get them and we don't and okay, that last part was kind of a lie because we are mad that we don't get them and yes, this season does suck and yes, we're still planning to be authentic and live life with you even when it's hard.  Whew.  That's a lot.

So for now, know that we made it to today.  We'll wash clothes and take care of our dogs and rearrange some furniture and sort through the piles and live in the hurt... but we made it to today.  Thanks for not expecting us to have more to say than just that.