When I was at my lowest after first Daddy and then, fifteen months later, Mama passed, my baby sister Mess Cat sent me the song “Brave” Sara Bareilles, and said, “I just want to see you be brave.”
I love her, but I just couldn’t hear that. I wasn’t ready to. Being brave was the furthest thing from my mind. Anger? Yes. Despair? For sure. Pain? Absolutely. BROKEN and shaken to my core? One hundred percent YES.
I was fairly for certain sure I had nothing remotely brave left in me.
Today the song came on the radio. I was singing along. Where I once almost loathed the song because it required something of me that I just didn’t feel prepared to do, I now really, really like the song. It was uplifting. I was dancing along as I tidied up around here.
And that’s when it hit me.
All those days that I spent crying as I washed the dishes or stopping in the middle of moving clothes from the washer to the dryer, lost in thought, or the nights that supper was a sandwich and applesauce–all of those days, I was brave. We all were. We woke up to the knowledge that things had changed and would never be the same again, and yet–we didn’t run. I might have stayed in bed a little longer. Some days I didn’t change out of my hoodie and sweatpants. Some days I left dishes in the sink until the next day. (Okay, most days.) Once I broke down crying in the middle of the grocery store and had to stop and check out and go home without getting most of what I was there for. And as the years stretch out, the “some days” are farther apart, but they STILL happen.
But I haven’t given up yet.
I might have felt like it, I might have closed my eyes and taken afternoon naps for a week straight, but I never gave up.
And I think maybe that’s what my sister was saying. She didn’t like seeing me give up.
Today I read the lyrics. Not all apply to what we have gone through, but these lines stand out for me:
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is
I have some dear friends who are going through dark times and hard things–some of the hardest–right now. Today is our first time remembering my sweet friend’s birthday without her here. I’m thinking about her family and how brave they are today and have been for so long now. Another sweet friend is remembering her husband she misses with every breath. She is so very brave. And yet another friend just said goodbye to her sweet Mama. How brave is she, remembering her Mama with pictures and stories and loving on her children, smiling through her tears. And then there’s my friend whose son just passed. I hold him and all of his son’s family in my heart as they are all kinds of brave, doing the unthinkable.
You are brave too. All those things that might have taken you down, but didn’t take you out–BRAVE. There’s a meme going around about how you’ve made it through all of your hard times 100% of the time so far–YES. YOU. THAT.
Mess Cat, I’m sorry I didn’t hear what you were saying back then, and that it has taken me three years for it to sink in. But thank you. It has indeed sunk in.
Listen, y’all. We have all made it through 100% of the hard things–the broken and sad and devastating ones. We are all still on the journey. Even if you are sitting on the bench taking a break, YOU ARE DOING LIFE. Let the light in. We all have earned the right to wear this badge.
Go forth and get your brave on. You are amazing.
Love to all.