From the third pew back, a tribe of us mourned a loss together in a chilly, bright church. BFF Suzy's momma died in the early spring, and we stood sentry over her as she grieved. Our heads bowed. Our hands clasped. Our tears fell. As Suzy moved through the day, her smile rarely wavered - she was determined to celebrate one of the most wonderful women we've all ever known. She stood with her dad and her sisters obviously bereft ... and in that way that only happens when your rope is about to end, or when your heart is quite literally broken in two, or when your shoulders are exhausted because you are actually carrying your sadness in a true and physical way ... bravery glistens in peripheries.
My momma went back to school when she was forty. The Brother was a sophomore at Texas A&M and I was a junior in high school. She spent long nights doing homework while working full time at the college and part time at a Keno Club. She cheered the loudest at all of my games, healed a deep divorce wound, and managed. She had been a secretary most of her life, or an assistant, or a helper. And my momma isn't built to not be in charge. So she lifted her chin, looked up, and stepped forward. A few weeks ago, she accepted a position as a Dean at a college in California. The new? The understanding that your body, your heart, and your mind ... your spirit, your whole self needs just something more? That's bravery. Acting on that need? That's heart stopping courage that few people I know have.
This fall, my step-momma and daddy were embroiled in the adoption process yet again, because love, you guys. They have so much love in their hearts. My dad was getting ready to work overseas for a significant period of time, and suddenly, their world was upended. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then - literally just a few weeks later, my baby brother was born. He found his forever home with my parents. Let that sink in for a second. My dad was overseas. My step-momma was finishing her breast cancer treatments. And then there was a baby that needed a home and they didn't say no. In the not saying no, in arms wrapped tightly around a newborn baby, in the overspilling love ... you can practically see the brave shining right back at you.
Often, bravery is personified as a charge into battle. Swords. Hats pulled down low and fists swollen. Marches of solidarity across old, rusted bridges that creaked under the weighed footsteps of change. Or in Mel Gibson's blue streaked face as he rode his horse and screamed a freedom battle cry, or tightrope walkers negotiating tricky wind changes and gut churning suspended seconds.
But it's a mistake, you see? Bravery is being the warrior in your own story, and bravery is really quiet. You know? We are often so, so silent about our sinking. And even in the silence, there's courage.
Bravery comes in those somber seconds when the waters of adversity are chin high. When you're standing on those tippy toes in a pool that's too deep. When you dip your chin back for one more second of air before you're forced to make a decision. Do you push your arms out through the cool water? Kick your feet and spin your body to float on your back? Or do you puff out your last breath of air, give in, and sink to the bottom? The bravery comes with the choice.
Every single day. It's almost commonplace. So much so, that we often forget the struggles of others. Sometimes, people are so powerful in their quiet bravery, that we forget that they're actually forging through. That they're actually fighting the tide.
Let's go a little easier on each other tomorrow, okay? Because the choice can be paralyzing for some. Agonizing. Or sometimes, the choice is just too exhausting to even contemplate. Don't just swim around the sinkers tomorrow, alright?
I love you like I love old Miranda Lambert songs and June and all of the women in my life that are much more brave than me.
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences.
He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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