October 26, 2015
It was one of those nights, the kind where you are really so tired, your body just is so very tired. Ben and I had chicken pot pies for dinner. No, not homemade, though I do make a mean chicken pot pie. These are the kind my Mom would get us when we had a babysitter, they cost like $1.49 each and I absolutely love them. I find them to be comforting, filling, and they make the house smell like some fabulous home cooked meal. Yummm. I ate my pot pie, washed my face, brushed my teeth, put on my pajamas, and climbed into bed. The zoo followed, Kando on her bed beside me, Joe up in my neck (have I told you I am actually allergic to cats? Yeah.), and sweet Bella at the foot of the bed. Poor Bella doesn’t get much mention as she is the good one. She is seriously the sweetest kitty ever, aside from a few behavioral issues early on….I can’t even get into it. Bella is quiet, her meow is barely audible, she is as soft as a piece of silk, and a real lapper. She and Ben go downstairs and watch sports. He will have his bag of sunflower seeds and Bella will be perched right there on him. They have some sort of quiet understanding. They need each other in this house. This is a house of extreme emotion, aside from Ben and Bella.
My family loves to watch The Voice. Laura and I were watching the other day and this kid just sang his little heart out. He was good. He was very good. I wouldn’t have pushed my button, though. Neither did anyone else. The judges comments were, “it was just missing something….it wasn’t spot on….etc.” Duh, I thought. Here is this kid (I can’t tell how old he was, but pretty new to the world, I would say). God had blessed this kid with an amazing voice, beautiful face, and the courage to get up on that stage in front of the world. The thing is he was singing a song of pain and heartbreak. There is the “duh” part. The judges told him to come back next year. I say he needs to come back next year and sing a song he can relate to, ORRRRRR come back in 10 years when he has felt some of the pain that life has. That is the thing. No one wants to be in pain, to be hurt, to feel loss, sadness, grief, anger, etc. It is what makes us who we are. All of the joy and sorrow pours in, flows around in those old veins of ours. Some of it leaves traces behind, some scars, some just passes on by, but it all develops who we are.
When I was in the seventh grade I had my first boyfriend. Woah. He was a fox. Laura says that isn’t even a thing, a “fox.” I tried “hunk” on for size and she just cracked up. Anyway, he made my heart sing. I would get nervous when I knew we passed in the halls at a certain time of day. The first time I ever danced with a boy was with him. Let’s give him a name…..Dan. We were at a school dance. Stairway to Heaven is on by Led Zeppelin. That is the longest slow song ever, 12 minutes to be exact. I don’t now, nor have I ever, liked Led Zeppelin. Sorry, it is just the truth. There I was with my three izod shirts on, collars starched and standing up. I still love the 80’s. I had big, fabulous hair, pink lip gloss, and blue eye-shadow. I love all of those things to this day. I was dancing with Dan. My two friends (still my two best friends to this day) were running around behind him, like idiots, telling me I was doing it wrong. I was supposed to put my hands around his waist, or his neck, can’t remember. Whichever way it goes, I was doing it wrong. All I knew is that if that song didn’t end soon I would actually sweat through all three of my izods and die. I was either going to trip, step on his foot, or sweat on him. Well, the song ended. I lived. The next day at school, Dan was trying to get my locker un-jammed for me. My super-cool, fuzzy lined jean jacket was stuck in the locker door. He grabbed the bottom of the door and pulled it. So, here is the story of my life and why my Dad calls me “Grace” to this day. The door flings off the hinges, hits me in the head, splits it wide open, and I am just bleeding everywhere in the hallway. Tons of blood. Head wounds really bleed. So, after I got done getting stitches at the hospital, I went home to watch Andy Griffith. The door rang and it was flowers being delivered. for me. What??? So, here is the thing. Dan broke up with me the next day, my first broken heart. I thought I would die from the pain. I really did. I didn’t though. I lived on and experienced many more, and many different kinds of pain throughout my life. I have my white hair to remind me of that experience. My head split so deeply that within six months my hair went white in that spot. I’ve had a white streak in my hair since I was 13. I used to cover it, but in college I decided to just let it be. Now I gotta cover all the other grays that are taking over. What a story. No kiddin. So, there is a battle wound. It was an experience I would not change, a scar I would not give up. It helped make me the person I am now.
What our heart takes in, turns us into whom we are. It is this endless cycle of things coming in and things going out. The knocks and bruises you take along the way help you to know what it feels like to get knocks and bruises. The times of amazing joy and happiness do the same. Your heart fills up with the laughter until it is dripping out all over your insides. Life is what makes you be able to speak with conviction, sing with great passion, and reach out and make a difference. We have all felt it. You don’t know why you get handed what you get handed and it doesn’t matter. It is important when you are hit with the ugly stuff, the black tar of life, that you experience it. Go through it. Feel it. Grieve, yell, stomp, cry. As time goes by, though, it filters through leaving behind a sting for sure, but if you do it right, it makes you a stronger and better person. Things have been hard around here lately and I have found myself kind of weighed down by the tar. You know, it is filling up my limbs and insides. It makes it kinda hard to walk around when you are full of darkness. It is heavy. I don’t know why things happened the way they did. I do know that instead of being a dark person because of it, I am choosing to leave most of that tar curbside. I have enough of it left to remember. I have it there to learn from and remember. The sting is there, some days it hurts more than others. I have experienced far more joy and happiness and will just dilute some of that tar down.
So, the kid on The Voice. The judges told him to come back next year. Nah. That isn’t going to work. The great poets, songwriters, actors, singers, teachers etc…have a few stories to tell. Let the kid live a little. After he has a little life under his belt, he will knock ‘em dead. Every bump in the road, every broken heart, every day of laughter, favorite song, broken heart…it all makes us who we are. You don’t get it back.
I have this leather bound book of 101 famous poems. It was my Great Grandfather’s and the Copyright date is 1929. The book is soft and fragile for it has been on many journeys and been opened so many times. The smell is that familiar smell that only an old book has. I will part with the words of one of my favorites….
“I Shall Not Pass This Way Again”
A Symphony, by Eva Rose York (DOB 12/22/1858)
I shall not pass this way again---
Although it bordered be with flowers,
Although I rest in fragrant bowers,
And hear the singing
Of song-birds winging
To highest heaven their gladsome flight;
Though moons are full and starts are bright,
And winds and waves are softly sighing,
While leafy trees make low replying;
Though voices clear in joyous strain
Repeat a jubilant refrain;
Though rising suns their radiance throw
On summer’s green and winter’s snow,
In such rare splendor that my heart
Would ache from scenes like these to part;
Though beauties heighten,
And life-lights brighten,
And joys proceed from every pain,---
I shall not pass this way again…