January 27, 2011

Who Knew?

I was digging through a drawer the other day, and I found an envelope that, I swear, I had never seen before. I grabbed it, and took a closer look.

Hmmmmm. Interesting. "A Share in America"? What does THAT mean? I looked inside.

Wellllll, whaddya know? It's a US Savings Bond. I've heard of these. I've actually purchased some for my darling nieces for Christmas and the like. I just didn't know I had one of them hiding in the dark depths of my vanity (it was in the bottom drawer - and, I have no idea how it got there...I have no recollection of this whatsoever).

Upon further investigation (ie: calling my momma), it turns out that my father's coworkers purchased this for me after my father died in a car accident. It was their way of helping me out.

Not to give away my age, but if you look closely at the purchase date on this thing, you could figure it out (I was seven months old at the time of purchase):

(This thing is so old, even the ink was fading...)

Now, me, only slightly understanding this whole Savings Bond concept, figured I'd cash it in. It's been in my family FOREVER, so it's well beyond it's maturity date. $50 is $50, you know?

Because this was a gift, but one given in a very special way at a very hard time in my life, it made sense that I use this money for my trip to South Eastern Africa, when I take high school students for two weeks to work with AIDS-orphans. Somehow, I think my father would've liked that idea.

Mom agreed, wholeheartedly. She knows me so well, that her first question to me after explaining the background of the bond was, "You're going to use it for Malawi, right?" Yes, Mom. Way to read my mind.

Again, not fully understanding the whole concept of "interest" and all that (I teach ENGLISH for goodness' sake!), I just figured it was $50. While that's not a large donation to the cost of the trip, it's still something. It's the right thing to do.

Imagine my surprise when the teller at the bank informed me that they were giving me $270! Wow. That's a LOT more than $50! :) My heart just about burst with joy.

I know my father's coworkers, from so long ago, had no idea what this money would bring. I know that they just felt they had to do something for the young baby who had just lost her dad. It just seems right that, now, they help me go love, feed, and teach some other young babies who have lost their dads.

Kids like...

James Patrick




and, my girls. The girls of my heart, Zione and Malia (L-R).

I'm so excited now; I can't wait for June when we get to see these darling children again. I miss them so. The time I have spent with them has truly been the greatest moments of my life.

Somehow, I think my father will be smiling.

January 10, 2011

Takin' a Drive...

I woke up this morning feeling grateful. Very grateful. To the point that, in my typical girl-emotional-ness, I burst into tears. Even though they were tears of gratitude, it still was an awkward way to wake up, and boy am I glad that I had some spoons in the freezer (the cold metal does wonders for puffy, red eyes…).

My alarm this morning was Christian Kane’s “Let’s Take a Drive,” which is arguably my favorite song of his. I’m not one to wax poetic about a singer, or his/her songs; but this morning, the song took root in my soul – again. Here’s how and why…without sounding too much like some fangirl reviewer, I hope (‘cuz, he has A LOT of those)…

A good song tells a story. That’s the purpose of a song. But, a great song…that tells many stories. It hits to the bone and marrow of its listeners and connects on a deep, soul level – whether to bring laughter and joy, or to remind its listener of their own journey.

“Let’s Take a Drive” is mine. Well, part of mine. In it, Kane sings about a friend who had forgotten who she was, and he talks about their childhood – the crazy adventures they’d gotten into, and the wild, chase-after-the-wind young woman she had been. He told her to take a drive with him, and he’ll remind her of that young woman. He’s actually said that it wasn’t that “deep” of a song, and it really wasn’t that big of a deal; and I’m sure that, to him, it really wasn’t. It’s a song for a friend – that’s all.

There was a point in my life where I had forgotten who I was – had lost the sense of adventure and the lust for life that had defined ME until that point. How I forgot…what had happened to me is a whole other story (which, ironically enough is told in another of Kane’s songs – an earlier one called, “Mary, Can You Come Outside?”). Life was dark. Hard. It literally HURT. There was a deep pit of pain, but I felt as though I had to mask it from those who loved me (hey, pain does WEIRD things to people. At the point when I should’ve been talking and getting help, in my skewed-logic, I was protecting those who loved me from my issues. They had enough of their own, I would think, they don’t need my messed up world, too.).

I’m a great actress, I came to find out. Some of the best friends in my world didn’t even know anything was wrong. But, man am I incredibly grateful for those who were able to catch those moments when I thought no one was looking. When the fa├žade would slip just enough and they could snatch a glimpse to the inner turmoil.

Those were the people who set up camp in that dark night of my soul and led me back. My kilt-wearing, rugby-playing, rough, crass, behemoth of a brother (who’s also a marshmallow) who would literally carry me to his truck and drive…sometimes for hours…reminding me of the girl I once was. Of how I viewed the world…and how I let it view me. My best friend, who saw the destruction that the lies had caused in my soul, would “hold up the mirror” (her words, ones I find quite apropos) and whisper, “THIS is you, not who you’ve come to believe… .”

God is gracious, and I came back “to me.” Came out swinging, as some friends put it. I just don’t ever want to forget that time. Not that I want to relive it (oh, Sweet Jesus, never again!); but for the sake that scars are a reminder of an injury, the scars on my soul are a reminder of deep pain – and deep love that brought me through.

Today, that lust for life is back. I dance in the rain again (I really do. I should be embarrassed about it, but I’m not). I laugh, loudly. I sing (on-key at times) in the shower. I try to find joy in every moment – even the ones that hurt. I’m forever grateful to those friends and my brother, for not giving up on me. Not letting me stay in that pit.

Songs like “Let’s Take a Drive” remind me of the hell I walked through, but they also allow me to remember that life is GOOD. The tears were of thankfulness; that life is worth living, because I’m ALIVE.

Not that Christian Kane is ever going to read my tiny, little blog…but if he did, I’d just say thanks. For putting words to the struggle some of us have gone through, and giving us an anthem to sing. That, and if, at some concert in the future, you look out while singing this song and you see a blonde woman trying to hide her tears in her beer, don’t worry too much about it. Really. I’ll be fine.

To those of you who just slogged through my damaged psyche in this post…I apologize for my dirty laundry. Those memories – of pain and of love – have just been following me around all day. I can’t shake ‘em, so I’m giving them a name and a voice, recognizing them for what they are; and I’m choosing gratefulness. Deep, deep gratitude.

Now, I’m going to go hug my annoying-as-hell-brother’s neck extra tight. And, I’m going to sit at my best friend’s table, snuggling her babies, and thank God, again, that life is worth living. It’s good.