A very long time ago, The Brother stood up in front of a crowd and delivered a speech that he had written in about two minutes. He led with a joke about tomatoes and he stood tall with his shoulders back. He enunciated every word and made eye contact with the crowd and his high school tassel swung from his cap as he gestured.
He debated for a long time about what to write before he actually put pen to paper. I can remember him floating ideas past my mom. She stood at the island in our farm kitchen and he stood with his mechanical pencil twisting between two fingers. One hand was on his hip and the other shoulder pressed up against the door frame. He pursed his lips, gauging my momma's reaction to each of his ideas.
And then her breath caught and she looked up from the graduation food she was preparing and she told him that he had a good one. And he nodded his head once, and then, he sat down at the dining room table and knocked it out. I watched the whole thing happen from my perch on the counter - my feet stretched out in front of me on the island.
His speech was simple, yet it spoke to everyone seated.
It spoke to me.
So much so that I still carry it deep in my heart and pull it out sometimes. A memory worn, like the folds of the newspaper that ran a copy of his words.
"Don't rush through life," he preached. His podium became a momentary pulpit and his words were clear. He spoke about how they (his class) were always thinking one step ahead.
When I get to kindergarten ...
When I get to junior high ...
When I'm an eighth grader ...
When I'm finally a senior ...
When I'm out of this place ...
He was only 18, and he wore his only tie under his gown. The same tie that had served him through state speech and mock trial, National Honor Society, and all of the other high school things. His teeth were straight and he did not yet know -
The Air Force.
Three babies that look like him and their momma.
He did not yet know that his best friend would die in Karbala, or how it would feel to lose a baby. He did not yet know how it would feel to deploy and spend so much time away from his family. He didn't yet know what it would feel like to surf in the Pacific Ocean, or even how to ride a motorcycle.
But there he stood, in front of his 11 classmates, telling them to just stop for a second.
To be grateful for where you are and what you have.
Speaking wildly beyond his years.
And I was listening so intently, just as I always had done when he spoke.
Today, I knocked my arm on the Christmas tree because there is such little space between my dining room table and the tree and I kinda thought for a second -
"Dang, it'll be nice when I can put all of this stuff away."
(In my defense, it's been out for a month now already.)
For a second, I let my mind drift and thought about how so soon after the Christmas tree gets put away, it's suddenly March. I'll be 34. And then it'll be summer break. The General will be 4.
Things will be different when summer hits, I thought. And I let myself exhale a little. My gosh November and December are tricky, tricky months. So hard. I often find myself sitting at my desk with the lights off, grading papers by my lamp. Taking deep breaths. Holding on to all of the threads of patience that I have left.
You know, a girl just needs a minute sometimes.
But then ...
But then ...
As I rubbed my tree branch scratch, I remembered The Brother's words from nearly 20 years ago.
"Don't rush through your life."
Even when he's 1,000 miles away conquering the world in Washington D.C., he's still preaching to me.
It feels like a race sometimes, this life. Doesn't it? And ... more than ever, the four weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas require a pause.
Listen hard to me --
Focus on the pause.
Focus on taking a deep breath and letting it go and just ...
Letting it go.
Stop the rushing. Look around you. Notice who you're with and what you're doing. And notice why you're doing it. Let it soak in.
After all, you're only in this spot - in this space of time - just for a sweet, sweet second.
. 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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