what a blessing

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What a blessing!

Once when my son Will was a baby, my oldest sister, Heather, and I took him to a nice little restaurant for breakfast. We were in Nantucket, and it was a sunny and peaceful morning. That is, until we appeared. Will was fussy, and I felt really awkward and insecure still adjusting to my new role as a mother. I didn’t know what I was doing or how to keep him happy. I loved nursing but trying to do it discreetly in public was a different story. I always felt as if he was suffocating with a blanket over his face or like my breast was going to do something strange. As I tried to settle in, I looked around sensing that the expressions on the faces of the other diners were not ones of amusement.

There was one woman in particular who was really giving me the stink eye. She was sitting with her husband and would glance over at us periodically and then turn back to her husband and whisper. I couldn’t stop looking at her looking at me.

I had a tough time finding my composure. I didn’t know what else to do and since breaking into tears didn’t seem like the best option, I starting talking trash about this unassuming woman. I couldn’t get over how judgmental she was being! It’s hard controlling a squirmy fussy baby at a pretty restaurant especially on this island where everything feels so picturesque and perfect.

Eventually Will quieted a bit, and I started breathing again. I looked up and saw the woman with the stink eye walking over to our table on her way out the door. “Oh crap!” I thought to myself what is she possibly going to say to me? A million stories ran through my mind…was she going to tell me I was a terrible mom? Or that I should not have brought my baby to a restaurant as nice as this?

As she approached the table, she looked me right in the eye and said, “You are so fortunate to have such a beautiful child. My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for a long time. It is such a blessing.” She was right, and I had been too worried about what everyone was thinking to enjoy this amazing blessing right in front of me.

This story brings to mind two lessons. One is how crazy our drama-seeking minds can be. Often these assumptions we make of others are mere projections of our own insecurities. It’s much easier to make someone else responsible for our own discomfort.

The other is a conversation my sister, Kerry, and I had recently. She told me that when she’s in traffic and getting irritable, she reminds herself that no one knows where anyone else on the road is going. The car that just did something careless like speeding through a red traffic light could be rushing to the hospital.

In real life, whether its on the road, or just going about our daily business, none of us really know where we are going or where we have come from. One thing is certain, however, if we can be present and compassionate to one another, it certainly makes the journey a heck of a lot sweeter.

As I try to stay open to the magic inherit in every moment, I have that unsuspecting angel with the stink eye to thank for teaching me such an invaluable lesson.

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All I Feel is Love

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My best friend said something to me recently over the phone that has stuck with me ever since she said it. Kristi and I talk often and have been friends since we met during the first grade in Scottsdale, Arizona. We have a lot in common. Mostly these are happy similarities. For instance, we married good friends, we now live in Tampa and are both busy raising a son and daughter.

Unfortunately, we share another event in common. We both lost our fathers suddenly. It’s been a long time since my dad died in a car accident on his way to work almost twenty years ago. Kristi’s father died of a heart attack three years ago. As I was weeks away from giving birth to my daughter, Phoebe, Kristi was getting on a plane by herself to go across the country to Arizona, hours after receiving the devastating call from her mom.

The roller coaster of grief is a painful ride. It was heart breaking witnessing Kristi go through the initial shock and rawness of losing someone she loved. She would ask me in the beginning if time really helped heal the pain, and I told her it would certainly assuage the rawness. However, as many of you know all too well, the pain sticks around. Sometimes something triggers us seemingly out of nowhere, and grief gets a hold. The ride starts all over again. I have learned the only way to deal with this is to give it the attention it demands and so rightly deserves.

So a few weeks ago as we were chatting, she brought up her father, so I took a deep breath and listened. She prefaced what she was about to say with, “Okay this might sound really weird.” She spoke of how happy she feels these days. She went on to say that at times she feels happier than she did years ago when her dad was still around. I knew exactly what she meant because I feel the same way.

Happiness lives side by side with sadness, and I think this is only possible because of gratitude. When life changes in an instant, it affords us the opportunity to look around at all there is to be thankful for. Now, more than ever, we both feel really fortunate to have had fathers who loved us so much and are still very much a part of our lives. I think perhaps we even appreciate and understand our fathers in a way we couldn’t have when they were here.

This kind of gratitude is so big and all encompassing. It causes tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. It is this kind of gratitude for knowing deep down inside that as awful as death can be, life is its constant companion. Something beautiful is not even right around the corner but is right here, right now sitting next to us.

It can be hard to let go and accept what is. However, maybe it helps to know that no matter what, there is always – even if it’s as small as a little blossom on a plant outside the window – something to smile about.  And for that I feel limitless joy and infinite gratitude.

As I miss my dad today, I think of something my son, Will, my Dad’s namesake, said when he was about four. I had accidentally shut the car door on one of his little fingers earlier in the day. When I asked him if it still hurt, he looked up at me with his big hazel eyes and said, “All I feel is Love.” And love never ends, it goes on and on and on.