Saturday, July 8, 2017

There is so much more to say...



5th grade Odyssey of the Mind
Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking at my buddy Michael's celebration of life.  His sweet momma asked me to a while back... likely because she knows I've never met a microphone I don't like.  I pointed out that I was better equipped to speak to 4 year old Michael than 40 year old Michael, but you don't go through roughly 37 years of a friendship with someone and not have a few stories to share of your time together.

I shared this as I opened: Dan gave me the laptop that I'm typing on now with one instruction... "Write your damn book."

Well, that's daunting.

Even for someone who loves writing... and who often feels like there is a story in there somewhere... the first step of writing a book is paralyzing.

So eventually, I wrote what I know.

I wrote about Michael.

And to this day, that's the only chapter I've written ...

I shared a bit of my relationship with him yesterday, but there is so much more to tell.  I walked away from the microphone- overwhelmed with emotion and love for my buddy- and realized I left so many things out.  Rather than jump up and say "OH WAIT! I FORGOT....", I decided to share some of that here.  For the rest of it, you'll have to buy my damn book.
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Michael and I met in the late 70's at Hominy Baptist Church- either in preschool or in Sunday School.  We remained friends for all of the years after- even in the times that we argued. #Mistyliker  Michael was, however, the only person I ever hit.  (Other than my brother, of course.)  In seventh grade he said something to me worthy of being hit- and when I went to hit him, he let me.  He knew he was in the wrong, so he stood still and "took it".  And when the teacher responsible for us asked what happened, he quickly said "Nothing."

In 12th grade, we had the privilege of registering to vote in our school cafeteria.  Michael said to me before we went in, "I might as well fill out your card for you... you're going to be a Republican, right?"  I'm guessing he assumed that because I spent more time in Bible Study than in Bent Creek, I would align with the Religious Right.  Whether to prove a point to him or not, I was pleased to check DEMOCRAT on my card.  And even though my Momma told me politics were private, I immediately went to tell Michael that his guess was wrong and I was not a Republican.

Along those same lines, he constantly was unimpressed with my music variety.  He rolled his eyes at my love of Amy Grant and 4Him, and rather than just harass me, he put into my hands new music.  I have a tape he made for me with Red Hot Chili Peppers on one side and Soup Dragons on the other.  I kept it for his handwriting- my cassette player long gone.  That was the first "mix tape" he made me... and why I wrote a RHCP shirt yesterday.  He opened my eyes to music beyond my own preferences- some bands I loved and some I didn't- and I'm grateful that like so many of you, he educated me.  And constantly encouraged me to go see live shows.

One day, someone brought acid to school.  It was the first time I'd ever seen it- and I was surprised at how pretty it was.  I said "If I could afford that, I'd wallpaper my house with it."  Michael said (without skipping a beat) "And I would come and lick your walls." (#justsayno)

Michael was so fun to be around.  His laugh was infectious.  His smile was radiant.  And he never smiled bigger than when he was talking about his kids.  After the football game we saw during our 20th Reunion Weekend, Michael drove me and Emily back to her car.  First, he took Trenton to a youth group activity.  When we dropped him at the church, Michael said "Can you believe my son is going to a church thing instead of a bonfire? I'm so proud of who he is. He's a much cooler kid than I ever was."  And that says a lot, because Michael was the coolest kid I knew.  He raved about Savannah's artistic side.  Every time he mentioned her, he'd say to me "You would love her."  I do, Michael, I do.

So many more stories. Hours of stories- only about Michael.  Many people told me yesterday that maybe he should be the focus of my whole book- not just a chapter.  I got offers for "guest authors" helping write it.  There's something that makes my heart smile to think of that... the story of Michael. The story of us.

Let's write it together, friends.
Let's #makeithappen.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Connection.

I'm currently sitting on my couch... watching Grace and Frankie.

Dan and I started watching it several months ago, and then we never got past the second episode.  It didn't "hook" us like we were hoping.  All of the reviews and hype just didn't click.

Until....

Some time recently I decided to give it another shot.

Something was different.

It clicked.

And it was because I knew it was something my Mom would have enjoyed.

Maybe it was because of 2/3 of "9 to 5" actresses were showing the world that their heyday wasn't over.  Maybe it was because I knew she would cringe and laugh with every moment that they were bashing their exes.  Or maybe the time was just right.

I've recently entered a new phase of looking for- longing for- connection.  Finding something that would bring my Mom... or my Daddy... or Michael, joy.  I enjoyed the BNL concert even more than usual... because of the company, the beer, the music- all because I knew Michael loved each of those things.  I enjoyed buying a new grill because I knew Daddy would want to buy it for us- he actually bought our previous one.  I enjoy wearing earrings of my Mom's because- while she would still be frustrated that I had been in her jewelry box- I long for the connection they bring.

I think this is a normal part of grief.  I think I'm actually in a healthier spot these days- trying to connect with those I've lost.  I feel more like "myself" than I've been in the last 5 years.  It feels good.

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I haven't updated my blog since September.  A lot of that is because of lack of connection.  I attempted to update it in October, but the words were half-assed, the sentiment wasn't genuine.  I wrote out of a sense of obligation, not out of the love of writing.

And this has mimicked itself throughout my life- not just in writing.

A friend said to me last week "I've missed you recently"... Funny, I've missed myself.

In September, right as I was writing my last post, I spiraled.  An off-handed comment from a friend pushed my tentative self right off the ledge of grief.  It has taken me months to claw my way out of that hole.  It's not been a straight up journey- I've fallen back down a time or two.  Hurtful words from people, feeling left out, not having a "place"... those tend to trip me up.

But thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, good therapy, a purpose, a strong church community, and some helpful friends who won't let me fall off the ledge alone... I feel like I'm back.

I've missed connection.

I've wept over friendships that have slowly faded away- ones that I thought would last a lifetime.

We've hosted fewer events in the last 9 months than we ever had... partially because I've started a new job, partially because we have a new dog, and partially because I've been too weary to be social some days.

But that job?  That dog?  They have given me connection.

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I share all of this with you not to make you feel uncomfortable.  It's not to put grief upon you if we have faded apart recently.  But I share this to you to let you know that sometimes when people fade away, they need you to continue to reach out.  They may not respond, they may blow you off, or they may legitimately be too busy/ tired/ whatever to hang out.

But sometimes, as was the case with my buddy Michael, they are on that edge of the hole and just need to know that they are not alone.

That's the whole premise of Grace and Frankie- finding connection when the connection you thought you had is no longer there.  I'm still making amends with my heart and it's broken connections... but even in this bizarre social media connected world, I'm thankful for what connections we have.


Here's hoping you find your Grace (and Frankie), too.