Whoa, Tuesday! You sure did jump out of nowhere and grab ahold of my heart today. Totally wasn’t expecting all of that.
There have been tears today. Over the realizing all over again what Thursday is and that she isn’t here to make her dressing. I’ve only not had Mama’s dressing three Thanksgivings in my life–the year we were in Japan and the two years that Daddy was so sick. I just don’t even know. But I know there are harder things in this life.
Later Sister called saying she was thinking about making gingerbread cookies. I laughed, as she often calls looking for a recipe. Often the same recipe I’ve given her before. More than once. She knows it–she owns it. When I asked if she needed the recipe, she began sobbing into the phone. Oh baby girl. I wanted to crawl through the phone line and hug her. Turns out she didn’t need the recipe after all. She just needed me to listen. Whenever she makes those cookies she thinks of Mama and all the times she called and asked Mama for the recipe. Precious memories. And hard. But still I know there are harder things on this journey.
I was with my Sister Circle this afternoon at Daybreak. We had a small group as some of our friends were out of town. As we talked about forgiveness and what that looks like and what it’s like to apologize, our conversation eventually turned to the holiday season. We eventually got around to whether or not the holidays were hard for each of us. One of our sisterfriends said no, that it was about being with family and she was so happy for Thursday and the opportunity to do just that–be with her family all together. I looked over at Miss N, our sisterfriend who is the artist, and asked her. She shrugged. She won’t be going to be with her family this year. “It’s hard,” she says. “It’s only one day. It’s just one day.” And I could hear her unsaid words echoing in my head and heart.
“Why’s it gotta be just one day?”
I know. I get it. She’s lonely every other day of the year. Why go and do this for just one day when she’ll have to go back as it was the very next day? And every day after that.
Broke my heart.
I also saw my friend Mac today. I guess I “conjured him up.” I hadn’t heard from him in about two weeks, and last week some folks shared how concerned they were about him. I called his Mama this afternoon to see if she’d heard how he was, and so yes, of course, he was right there in front of me after I hung up with her. I was glad to see him.
He hung around for us to visit after Sister Circle was over. It’s been cold, and today it rained all day long. He looked like he was doing all right though. But he’s tired. He teared up as he talked about it. He’s done with living on the streets. Again. He wants to go back to the transitional program he was a part of out of town. Again. He had lost the number to the contact there, a man who really cares about Mac. I have it, so I handed Mac my phone with the number ready to dial. Was I calling his bluff, wondering if he was just telling me what I wanted to hear? Maybe. But he took the phone. He made the call himself. And he called back. And he did this for himself.
Turns out he can’t return there. Long story, but I understand. And I agree. But the person there cares so much, he called me back with two places to contact and see if they have an opening for Mac. I am thankful for him and his caring heart. Funny thing is, I didn’t see it in the beginning. This tough love thing is hard to discern sometimes. And judging someone at first contact almost always gets me in trouble. He’s a good guy. I appreciate him.
As I sat visiting with Mac, a volunteer called out a name, and a young couple went over to the half-door at the laundry room where several washers and dryers were working hard to keep up with all the needs for the day. The volunteer who is there without fail every Tuesday afternoon handed over a basket of clean clothes. What caught my eye was the look of sheer joy on their faces. The young woman (honestly she didn’t look much older than my Aub) closed her eyes and breathed in the clean smell. They both pulled their still warm clothes close to their chests and sighed contentedly. The woman squealed with delight and her companion laughed loudly at her joy.
I had to look away and wipe my eyes.
I’m a spoiled you know what.
I have my own washer and dryer. I have a precious family whose clothes I get to wash. Whenever I want. We have a place to store our clothes rather than shoving them back in a backpack…..and having to carry all of our clothes on our back or risk having them taken away. Oh, how I have taken it all for granted. How many times have I whined or moaned over the laundry, the washing the folding the putting away?
Watching that beautiful couple and their sheer joy over something that is so basic for me and mine…..
it made me thankful. And ashamed. And it put things into perspective.
At least for today.
So in the morning, in the midst of the traditional baking and remembering who is not with us this year, and trying to figure out if I even want to attempt Mama’s dressing, I will be making calls for Mac and waiting for him to call me and keeping my fingers crossed that something will work out…..and that this time he can hold his own in his battle with that demon alcohol. And I will be playing catch-up with the laundry. I am sure at some point I will find myself breathing in the clean clothes and holding the warmth close to my heart. And remembering the joy I got to see.
Yes, I know there are far harder things in life. The realization that the loneliness will return after one day of being with others keeping you from even trying, the horror of fighting a demon that puts your life in danger each and every day–and cold, wet night, and the life of carrying all the clothes you own around in a backpack…..I’ve seen them all today. All I’m left with is the tears.