Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Gift of Epic Proportion

I don't typically go looking for external validation. For one thing, it is never as satisfying as I hope it will be. For another, I'd rather do the things I do and have self-satisfaction as my reward. However, every now and then someone will say something to me that makes me feel as though my life - everything I've been through, all the hard work I've done on myself - has just received a tremendous payoff. Yesterday was one of those days.

Last week I posted about Christmas 2006 with my late mate, John (here). I posted it because I needed to post it, needed to get it out, not because I expected it to really rattle anyone's sensibilities. I should know better. We are watched, always. Friends watch us, family watches us. We are guideposts in so many ways - what to do, what not to do. Move a finger in the pond and the ripple will carry. Even so, I didn't consider the profound effect my post might have on others.

Until yesterday.

That's when I received the following message from my wonderful friend, Jessica (who blogs here). In a message to me, Jessica wrote:

"While shopping today, I got a little bummed because I ran out of money and couldn't get a certain gift for Paul. I started feeling a little down, and then it hit me - I thought of what you went through that Christmas with John, and I said to myself, 'It could be so much worse; you could be losing Paul, and a gift would be the last thing on your mind.' I really don't know how you went through that and not only came out ok, but have gone on to be a full, happy person. I do know John made you promise as much, but still, I can't even fathom it. You, my lady, are amazing, and that's no bullshit. I love you! .... I guess sometimes you just do what you have to do, but like I said, I can't even imagine having to endure the level of pain you must have felt, and then still being able to come out the other side to smile and laugh and enjoy life again. I know John must be smiling somewhere."

To say that I was entirely blown away by her words is an understatement. To say that she had me in tears is a ridiculous foray into stating the obvious. I was an emotional wreck after reading that.

But it wasn't for reasons that you're probably thinking.

I wasn't emotionally overwhelmed out of a renewed sense of grief, not at all. Instead, I felt as though one of those guys in the van had just knocked on my door and handed me one of those body-sized checks for $10,000,000. I felt as though everything I'd worked for, and fought for, and suffered for, and wished for, and dreamed of, had just paid off beyond what I had imagined.

What I've gone through changed the world for someone else. Tangibly. In giving voice to my journey, I've made a profound difference in one person's life. I dipped my finger in the pond and the ripple traveled all the way across the states to wash over another human being.

It might have filled me with a sense of pride, but it didn't. Rather, it knocked me flat with a sense of humility, an awareness that my existence has real reason, and I'd do best to be vigilant about my actions. Not that I was unaware, but when it hits you full-on between the eyes like that, stunned though you may be, you kind of sit up and take notice.

That's a Christmas gift of epic proportion. "Merry Christmas, Barb. Here's your life - it was all worth it."


  1. What you wrote rippled out even more - i shared your story of that Christmas with my mom, and as my own voice cracked, so did hers. You reminded me to keep in mind the big picture - it may not be fun when we're struggling financially, or dealing with any of life's everyday dilemmas, but it could be so much worse. The greatest gift i have, and ever will have, is Paul, my son, my family and friends like you. This is something to remember always, not just at Christmas. Life is short and every second you can spend with those you love is a gift. Thank you for sharing your honesty, your heartache, your joy, your art...all of it. You make a difference. You affect.

  2. Beautiful, Barb. We can never be reminded too often that the most important things in life are not things and that we need to hold our loved ones close. It's all too easy to forget.

  3. It was ALL worth it and it IS all worth it. ALL of it. Merry Christmas, friend.


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