In life, we often seek this state of enormous glory. What we often miss is that there is glory in each and every little thing. The car we ride in, the people we meet, and even the fly that buzzes around constantly, all give us that glorious life.
As I sit here I contemplate my thoughts and ideas of you. The effect you have on me is comparable to an addiction. I do not understand how my mind and my soul falls to the whims of you. The key to it all or the starting point is your eyes. The comment that the eyes are the gateway to a person’s mind, I respectfully disagree with completely. Your eyes are the gateway to the universe that is your soul.
Here is what’s so confusingly wonderful about you. You really have a way of keeping me grounded. And at the same time you create an environment where my head can be all in the clouds. I love your brain right. I love the humorous state in which you see the world through. Your face is just always sparkling.
There is value to how you see the world, seeing the best parts typically and ignoring that which is negative and contradictory to growth. There is an infectious happiness I see inside you that just accompanies you in all that you do. You make me smile and think about the joys of the world. There is something about you that reaches into me and inspires me taking me into a dreamlike state, that changes the composition of my life. Your consciousness expands helping my mind to see the world through a different perspective, and a unique circle of all realms of existence.
The sides, seasons, and shades of you are interesting … The warmth of you is like the summer as it races over me in the exciting new night sky. I am captivated by the fury of your heart rising like the sun crashing into the night and blazing a trail of fire. The freezing cold defines you especially when you have been mentally accosted in some way. Your fury is like that of a winter storm rising harshly and yet immensely beautiful. The purity of it all, the angry state of your core violently flows through the heavens as you unleash yourself upon me.
Your face then reminds me of fall. It’s how you make me fall when I see you and for you, as the joyous colors are all the intricate facets of you. As each leaf flips to a different color, I fall into a different understanding of the corners of the galaxy that is in turn your heart.
This connection wakes me at night giving me sight to see things that would be otherwise oblivious to me. My conscious dreams are infatuated by the thunderous awakening that is you. Every time I see you my shadow expands and begins anew like the first flowers of spring. My mind and body beat like the rains on the window pain. That furious passion of nature is all that I see and feel of you.
It is a love of you, and a connection of purity which manifests itself in the planet we share. Your body touches me but your mind caresses me in its infinite state of conceptualization. With you nothing is ever as simple as it seems. It is as if the world exists in a bi-polar state of flux as your personality is in constant perpetual motion.
To know you is to understand you yet no one truly can understand you, because as soon as they do the multiverse of you shifts to a new existence, growing to contain the new creation of you. This in turn makes those around you, who value you, grow so as not to be left behind. You kiss me so hard it makes my essence quake and quiver … I am lucky to have experienced the lunacy of you, even if only for the moment, for in that moment of crazy exists a perfect harmony.
Therefore, I enjoy all that you are and look forward to all you can be. We can often get lost in the hustle and bustle of the world. I would much rather get lost in the adventure of the youniverse of who you are.
I think one of my favorite pictures regarding love and romance is this one:
“What is love?” “A neurochemical con job.”
Because this child can’t be more than eight, and they’ve hit the idea right on the nose. Love is something that we as humans have evolved into finding mutually beneficial, especially in this time of the necessity of two-income households. Our own human biology cons us into finding the way a person smiles and the weird half-laugh they do at dumb jokes on Twitter worthy of our affection and time. Humans are essentially useless when they’re born. As a way to compensate, evolution gave humans oxytocin, the hormone that makes us feel bonded with other people. It starts out when our mothers bond with us as babies, or as children.
And then we chase that feeling forever. Humans are social. We – generally – like being around other humans. At the very least, we all need some human contact. So our own biology goes “here, have some oxytocin” when we’re around people we like. And that makes us like them more. And then romance comes in. That fuzzy feeling? It’s just hormones.
There are also the benefits of being in a relationship in the modern world, like shared costs for the Netflix subscription. Or for budgeting for the future because you’re unsure about whether or not grad school will have enough return on investment to go. In an age of dating apps and OKCupid quizzes, it’s hard to find the romance sometimes. It isn’t all milkshakes and going steady. A lot of romance is having real conversations about the future.
“If you were never financially stable enough, would either of you be okay with not having children?”
“Do you even want children at all?”
“Do you have any debt, student or otherwise?”
In this new generation reaching adulthood, these questions are more like small talk on a first date rather than questions you ask after you’ve been together for five years and already own a dog.
But that hormone remains. Humans like and need other humans, and not just for their various accounts to watch TV. Companionship is a part of the human experience. Even when the questions we have to ask each other get harder, it isn’t impossible.
We can find love in a hopeless place.
If Rihanna says we can, I believe her.
Love continuously proves to be one of the most elusive concepts.
That is, for me anyways. How are we supposed to go about finding something that so few can even define? Yet, while I may not have experienced the kind of love that makes up fairy tales, some of the stories I have heard throughout my 21 years of life have given me hope. Hope that maybe the connections we make in this lifetime are worth more than a box of chocolates or a way to pass the time.
Some of the following recollections of love stories are from my friends and family. Others are random remembrances of conversations with kind strangers. Either way, from those I have encountered, I have found that it is love that makes life worth living.
The platinum beauty was standing overlooking the airplane tarmac with her father when he saw her. He was sitting in the café with a gaggle of stewardesses when he looked up and said, “That is the woman I am going to marry.” The young man got up, walked over and introduced himself to the woman and her father. As fate would have it, he worked for her father’s engineering company in Los Angeles. As the staff called for the boarding of their flight, the woman and her father took their seats in first class while the man went back to sit in economy. When the father got up to use the restroom, the man got up, sat in the father’s seat, drank the father’s martini and did his best to woo the young woman. When the father came back he politely asked if the young man would move, as he’d like to have lunch with his daughter. Phone numbers were exchanged, background checks were ran and a double date was set up between the young man and the beautiful blonde. Six months later they were married and proceeded to spend the next 50 years of their life together.
She was an English lady on holiday in Ireland with her friends. Her first marriage was not all that it was cracked up to be and she needed a break. Riding her moped down the winding Irish roads, he almost ran her off the road. It was meant to be. They got married and she moved to Ireland whilst her daughter moved to The States. She learned to love Guinness for him.
They we’re both at a random Chicago Cubs game. He was from Texas; she was from Canada. They were seated next to each other and hit it off. He had just gotten into a relationship. They exchanged contact information and went their separate ways. A year and a half had gone by when she received a random call. It was him. He was out of his relationship and had been thinking about her after all this time. They began long-distance calling each other for months and eventually made plans to meet in Vegas to see if the spark was still there. She was leaving to fly to Vegas in the morning.
They grew up at the lake together. He did a little more of the physical growing up then she did. It was the golden summer and feelings developed. Jokes were made and families looked on with barely-concealed amusement. There were many play fights to be had, lots of Bloody Mary’s to be made and countless childish jokes to be tossed out just to see who could toss it back first. She lived in LA; he lived in Atlanta. They carried on long-distance throughout the ups and downs over the years. They look forward to moving in together next year.
It’s true for many that love take time to grow. But for others, it arises and smacks you on the head like an out-of-control moped on an Irish holiday. To me, relationships that seem to be destined aren’t the ones you went searching for. They’re the kind that come out of nowhere. They are the kind that are messy, take work and surprise your common sense.
They’re the kind that I love to hear about.
I love to hear the stories about how people met, because they are never the same. They never happen the way you expect them to; and that’s one of the unsurpassed wonders and mysteries of life. So to all those who have already found their love story, keep on spreading that joy. For those who haven’t, much like myself, there is nothing to worry about. Keep an open mind and heart and let fate do its’ thing. While it may not be popular opinion, I do believe that those who are meant to come and stay in your life—will. Life is long, but altogether too short to spend time with those who don’t fill your cup.
“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.” ― Pablo Neruda
I was nervous. I straightened my tie I was walking down a road I had been down many different times but not in quite the same fashion. I walked into the church and my throat was dry my hands were sweaty. In the same breath I was among honored friends and family.
I never truly understood funerals and death. I got the honoring the dead like the Vikings and the place in Valhalla where warriors reside and revel in the victories of their life and death in the afterlife. Do not add meaning to the reference instead just get this is the honor we give to the dead and those who had an impact on our lives.
For me death never struck me like others. I did not cry I did not sob nor weep. I simply was present to the remembrance of those who had passed on before me. This time was somehow different. I knew I was in a different space as I could feel something more just on the edges of my consciousness. My grandfather had died and I wasn’t prepared to really see that aspect of my life as I began to look at my own mortality in that moment.
The Church was packed there were people from all over in Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Illinois, and Pennsylvania to name a few states. It still was not registering it was so surreal and in that moment I just was in shock. My grandfather had over 20 legitimate children.
As the funeral began I was listening to the pastor at the podium. It was super intense and it was directly powerful. The words he used resonated about my grandfather. The words fit and I began to feel a weariness inside my soul. I knew this was a different thing. My Aunt went up to the podium and began speaking. In the initial stages it was about my grandfather and somehow it turned to a monument about her. Her first words were “I am the oldest and …” It all went blank and began to be a blah, blah, blah session about her and what she did and did not like. I struggled to stay present to her words. She said
When she sat down I felt my heart sinking as my grandfather was gone. I also felt my heart rise as I could be thankful for the time I spent with him and what it meant to me. I was compelled to go to the front of the church and speak. There was easily two hundred people within the church and I was not nervous at all.
“To start off I want to say I was my grandfather’s favorite grandchild. I have no Idea why and why really does not matter. Now to most people that may sound presumptuous or even arrogant. I want you to put that to the side for a moment and really get present to what I have to say. My grandfather would let me ride in the front cab of the truck while everyone else had to ride in the back. My grandfather would work on the farm all day and come home well after 10 pm when everyone else was sleep. I suffer from insomnia and my mind always runs and works. My grandfather would play checkers with me for a s long as it took for me to get tired and he would never ever let me win. I always had to earn the victor and he explained strategies of the game as well as strategies in life. I was really close with my grandfather. We would talk all the time and it was him listening and giving advice when he felt it would help never forcing it on me.
I found out something new about my grandfather today. If you look in the obituary I found out my grandfather was a Korean War hero. He had medals and things I never saw or knew anything about. My grandfather did not seek glory or to be glorified. He simply defended what he felt was right and as an African American back in those days must have been tough. My grandfather helped found a town which feeds into the town we are in right now with over 30,000 people in it. My grandfather again did not seek recognition so I want everyone to really get who this man was and the honor in who he was. I still have my grandmother and she is over there right now looking at me and I see her and all I can think of is what they mean to me.”
“I had a nickname that always bothered me as a child. My grandparents called me Frog or Froggy. I despised that nickname and how I got it was I used to hop around on all fours before I could walk. They never called me my name. Even this morning I went into my grandmother’s room to kiss her and she hugged me and was so excited that she called me frog. Now I am refined with master’s degrees and I am a nerd. And for today for her Frog is what is right and what fits. I love you, grandma.” And I walked to my seat I sat down. I felt a hand on my shoulder and it was familiar without even looking I got who it was and he leaned over and whispered in my ear “watch this and pay attention son.”
This man strode to the podium and there was an aura of respect from every single person in the room. The man began to speak. “That eloquent young man who you all just heard from Is my son. He is accomplished and I am so very proud of who he has become and who he still has yet to become. That being said I am the oldest of all my daddy’s children and after I speak no one else will be speaking here today.” There was a firmness in my dad’s voice that I did not get just yet, and it would be made clear as to the why all too soon.
My daddy revealed them to me and I know he loved them as much as he loved the rest of us. We stand here not to build monuments to ourselves we are here to honor my father. We honor him by being a family in unity and handling any changes that come our way as such, as a family. My son spoke so that we all knew the kind of man we are here to honor. Take that memory with you out into the world and maintain his honor. Thank you!”
I have always been proud of my father and the life he gave to me. In that moment I could not be more proud of him and how he handled that situation. No one else spoke and they all respected my father’s words. I lost a grandfather and gained 3 aunts and an uncle and all the family attached to that.
Sometimes the most spectacular things can be gained in the blink of an eye and all from something that may or may not be what others may deem right. Leave right and wrong behind and be present to all that is in front of you. Be thankful for it challenges and triumphs alike for it is in these moments that we inspire others and ourselves. My grandfather was the First Giant I Knew!!
I am a person who prescribes to the thought process that all people are fundamentally good, or at least have the ability to be so.
I find that there is a basic level of good that can be found in all persons, and simply finding that is what can sometimes prove to be difficult.
There is a person I have met who has the kindest heart and the most gentle soul of anyone I have had the pleasure of spending an extended period of time with. Knowing when you are around people like this is highly valuable, because they will seemingly effortlessly improve your life without your notice.
Admittedly, I am an inherently stubborn, short-tempered, and cynical person. Staying conscious of these traits each day helps me work against them, attempting to be more open-minded, patient, and relaxed. However, working alone can be difficult, and support systems are almost always necessary for many walks of life.
I have a person who shows me by example, practically every moment of everyday, how to be everything I am currently not. He encourages me when I am skeptical of my ability to do better. A heart as pure as his cannot go unnoticed, nor unappreciated.
Being an independent person is a quality I have always prided myself on having. However, if you are even better with a partner, why operate alone?
Having an individual in my life who pushes me out of my comfort zone and into a place of transparent change is arguably the best thing for me.
The person I am today is vastly different from the person I was a few years ago. That is because I am not just one person attempting to charge to the world as an island. I am a person more consumed by love, happiness, and trust—qualities I could not have attained by myself. I have become more fundamentally good with this amazing person in my life.
*Names have been changed.
Tony* is an intelligent man- he graduated two years ago from Caltech with a mechanical engineering degree. We met at a party last autumn, and I immediately was drawn in by his boyish nerdiness and pleasant demeanor.
At the time, I was playing the field, and had no interest in a relationship. But I still took him home, and I recall clearly, when he bent his skinny, shirtless torso over my twin bed, I questioned that decision. “Not only is he not my type,” I thought to myself, “But he’s also below my standards.” I let him sleep over, which I almost never did, because he would be getting up a few hours later for work anyway. Little did I know that what should have been a one-night stand would change everything.
We went out a few times, and I found myself falling for him. I asked myself, “Is this love?” and simultaneously admonished myself for thinking such thoughts, because in addition to my being too emotionally unstable for a relationship, he lacked a number of the qualities I desired in a partner, like social aptitude or profoundness. The conversation shifted when I found out he was seriously dating a woman from his past, Miranda, while going out with me, and I was quite hurt. I drank myself into a stupor the night I found out, and couldn’t understand why I was surprised, let alone why I cared. Perhaps it was that Tony’s dating his ex made me the “other woman,” something that reminded me of a mistake I made several years prior. At least, that’s what I told myself.
Against all of my friends’ advice, I continued to see Tony. He eventually broke things off with Miranda, because, in Gossip Girl-esque style, she was dating another man at the time, making Tony the “other man.” We went steady a month later.
I knew Tony was still in love with Miranda, and I sought consolation in anecdotes of other successful relationships where one of the parties still loved his ex. It wasn’t easy for me to deal with, especially when this struggle was compounded by other ones in my life. But for the most part, I managed.
That is, until about six months into our relationship, he said something especially strange about our love, and I knew for certain that he was being unfaithful. In the past, I’d been suspicious, but never confronted him because I dismissed my fears as paranoia. Going on a gut feeling is typically not something I condone, but I knew my psychology and Tony was not acting normal, even by his standards.
I didn’t know what to do or think. He denied anything when I asked him, and I wasn’t one to look through his phone or pry into his personal files.
Here is the point when I should have cut things off. I should not be nor have been with a man who makes me feel like I’m not enough, like I’m not loved, like I’m wasting both of our time by sticking around. But I didn’t- I was in love, I was insecure, I was whatever. For some reason, I could not bring myself to leave.
Then, Delilah entered the narrative. Delilah is a beautiful woman who pursued me romantically the year prior to my relationship with Tony. Things didn’t work out for various reasons, but I always had a soft spot for Delilah. I still do.
One night, a group of us went out for drinks, and I had a few too many. Tony was doing whatever he was doing elsewhere, and Delilah was the first person to make me truly laugh in weeks. One thing led to another, and before I knew it we were kissing. It was wrong, but it felt like the first event that was right in months.
I never really thought cheating was particularly horrible. Infidelity was never something I’d experienced. It seemed zesty, like it added a spice to what was otherwise a monotonous relationship. Ironic, considering that Tony’s infidelity was taking such a toll on me. But after I crossed that line, the depth of what I had done hit me like a bullet. People get stoned for this sin for a reason.
I was not the woman who waited at home while her partner was out with other ladies. However, the next weekend, and the one after, I felt overwhelming remorse. One time, maybe even two, is a drunken lapse of judgement; over weeks is not. I told Delilah that it couldn’t continue, but after two weeks I decided to simply end it with Tony. But then – I didn’t. To put it simply, when faced with the two lovers, and my compromised morals, I stuck with Tony. It was still Tony who I loved, who I refused to give up on.
I cut Delilah off, and put all of time and affection into loving Tony again. I no longer cared about Miranda’s role in our relationship. If Tony went back to her, so be it. I didn’t want my hands- or lips- any dirtier than they already were.
A convenient three weeks later, Tony entered my home sobbing. He confessed to me his love and rendezvous with Miranda. Unsurprised, I let him cry in my lap and told him I forgave him. It would have been hypocritical for me to do anything else.
He seemed surprised, but why not? Tony didn’t understand that I not only knew about his disloyalty, but that I had also forgiven him before he uttered a word about Miranda. Why? Because relationships and trust are a fragile thing, and seduction and jealousy are devastating weapons that weaken the resolve of individuals with the best intentions. Not to excuse my own actions, but I believe my sins have made me a better person. I could never get into the head of an adulterer until I was the head of an adulterer, and my appreciation for Tony grew exponentially as a result. I like to think it did the same for him.
Tony and I are still together a year later, doing whatever couples in the city do, and doing wonderfully. He makes me stronger, and I don’t believe I will ever be as weak emotionally as I was the year I fell into temptation.
Just when you think that you’re doing great. Just when you think you’ve got your life all in order and everything is going to work out fine, the world finds a way to catch up to you and come crashing down.
I was dumped. And given my past relationship record, my friends had really, really good reason to be worried about me. The really, really fun part about borderline personality disorder is the extreme fear of abandonment and the feeling of being unlovable. All of which are a dangerous combo added on top of a break up.
Until Friday night came. I hadn’t been out in a total of 15 days, which, any normal person in Athens would tell you, was downright crazy. My hair looked good; my eyebrows flawless. I was ready to see my ex if only for the moment to say hello so nonchalantly and then carry on with my business. I mean, everyone had advised me to keep my distance, act casual, and pretend that everything was going okay. And my plan was to do just that. Let’s act cool. Let’s act okay.
But was everyone okay? Up to this point I had completely avoided the true feelings of being dumped for the hope that he had made a mistake and would come back. And having a chaotic week made it pretty easy to pretend that nothing had changed at all.
Until I added alcohol into the mix. The second the sweet sweet taste of Strongbow hit my lips, my fingers were just itching to text him. The savory feeling of a drunk text. And I get it- nothing good can come out of any of this. So why not have a drink and see how you’re feeling then?
4 drinks, two bombs, and 2 shots later- here we are. I’m in a bar by myself. My girlfriends gone. Every boy that touches me makes me cringe, and I don’t know how to have a conversation with even the slightest hint of flirtation to it without my skin crawling. The whole night my eyes dart side-to-side looking for him. Hoping for that moment that I can link eyes with him and pretend like all is grand.
I go home. $20 uber for one. And I change into my t-shirt and boxers and look in my mirror. I look so closely into it and a weird outer voice comes into that mirror and says “it’s okay baby girl. None of this is your fault. You are beautiful. You are kind. This isn’t your fault.” It’s is a fatherly, assertive voice that comes out of me, I don’t believe a word out of it. Despite my own inner voice trying to give me a pep talk, here I am.
I feel lost. I feel scared. And I feel alone. So far alone at 4:30 AM that I’m not sure what to do anymore. After several more drunk texts and a few more conversations in the mirror (all of which are essentially an outer-body-me saying that I actually matter to the world) I grab my box of tissues and I crawl into bed.
The world I tired of me, and I am tired of it. And we have completely exhausted one another for today. It won’t be until morning when the two of us get to wake up and deal with one another again. And that’s just the way that we work for awhile.
I felt as though I had lost my innocence, like I had sinned. I was wrong and dirty. I could never be loved.
I was five when it started. Too young to fully understand what was happening, and old enough to feel violated. As a little girl, there’s no way I could have known it wasn’t my fault. There was no one there to tell me. Yet, the little girl still inside my soul, hiding back in the corner afraid of another attack, doesn’t know it’s not her fault.
I had fallen deep into this hole and it took me a while to remember why, but when I did, it was like a flood.
“Shh, I’ve got you.”
“No, don’t tell.”
“This is love.”
I fell deeper into my depression, a hole so deep and dark nothing could grow. Not my heart, not my love, and not the reality I would make it out alive. I became so fed up with the little girl I used to be. I pushed my problems back in the corner where she was hiding.
I have my own life to live now. How can I carry around the burden of being a victim when that little girl I used to be felt like an entirely different person? She was weak. She wasn’t even brave enough to open her mouth to make it stop. She has caused me so much pain and agony. She is why I’m here in this place; this place of distress and confusion; of fear that I’ll never make it out.
That little girl I used to be is why I’m still here. Because she kept fighting against the odds. Because, for over 19 years she has never given up no matter how deep the pain, no matter how many tears I shed, no matter how many times he whispered, “Shh, it’s okay.”
No matter how deep and dark it got, we worked together to survive. I grew up convinced no one would help me, so I learned to help myself.
I stand today, not as a victim of circumstance, not as a victim of child abuse, not as a victim of a sad story people cringe to, but as a survivor.
Because I am a survivor.
Do you know why people hug when they are in pain? To place a boundary on the suffering. To draw a line where the pain can extend to. Without such a line, one’s agony will push out and is inherently less controllable. I have only experienced this type of embrace once in my life.
As a high schooler, I arrived to school each day before any student and most teachers. This was so I could spend time with one instructor in particular. Every morning, without ever formally communicating with one another, we knew we would both be there. Before even the sun. After having multiple classes with this teacher throughout my high school career, he became a mentor as well as instructor. A friend.
Shortly after the holidays of my senior year, I receive word. The sort of word one does not wish to receive. The sort of word I never heard before. A panic ensued within me, spread from the tips of my fingers to the tips of my toes. It’s the same panic I feel in my hands as I type now, years later.
Immediately following my panic came my guilt. This was a kind of a guilt that was previously unknown to my body. Standing in the middle of a Chick-Fil-A, just after hearing the news, my guilt buckled me over and I grabbed my gut. It was at this point that I could feel my discomfort and pain reaching out in all directions, uncontrollable.
Rushing home, I told my mother the news. It was then that she held me. Held me together in one piece. She drew the line for my pain. I listened intently as she explained to me that there is devastation in the world that is difficult, if not impossible, to comprehend.
She advised me to not be angry, because there is no sense in focusing on the past or placing blame. Guilt is useless in some scenarios.
After a while, the conversation came to an end. Her words were of comfort. And what remains with me years later is simply the feel of her arms holding me. Not allowing me to crumble. Placing a limit to how much sadness I could feel in those moments.
However, my mother was only able to help me back up. She did not do it single-handedly nor unilaterally. This is where one’s own independence and sentience is the final step to picking oneself up, because people cannot help those who do not wish to help themselves.
It was the combination of my own acceptance and strength working in tandem with my mother’s love that allowed me to move on and limit the guilt I feel on this 3rd anniversary of one of my closest friend’s suicide.
Typically, as the holiday season approaches, many people’s first thought is “oh crap, relatives.” Aunts and Uncles fill your home as well as distant relatives whose name you can’t quite remember. You cook, eat, clean, sleep, repeat until your pants fit a little bit tighter and your nerves wear thin of Uncle Rob’s political opinions.
And then the day comes. Santa and his reindeer have come and gone leaving gifts behind for good girls and boys. Before you know it, in the midst of all the Christmas cheer, time gets away from you and the holiday is over bringing in the new year. And with the new year comes new resolutions.
People say they are going to go to the gym more, eat healthier, be smarter with money, and a whole lot of other things that they hope they can accomplish to improve their lives. This year, I have a one resolution I hope to stick to moving into 2017. That resolution is to remember the people who impacted me the most, and one person in particular comes to mind.
This person is someone I have known for a very long time. Someone who helped raise me, loved me as her own. Someone who lived a hard life but never let the challenges defeat her.
Let’s start out with her story. I remember the day she told me how she came to live in America. I was on the playset in her backyard on the swings, my favorite. I loved how it felt when I flew through the hair, weightless, seeing how high I could go if I just swung my legs a little harder. She walked into the backyard and started swinging with me. We talked about random things for a little bit until I asked her about her childhood.
She came from a place filled with civil unrest. Her childhood was not easy. I remember her telling me one time as a little girl she was at school playing outside for recess. She was with her friends running and laughing, until she fell down a hill beside the playground. She got up, brushed herself off, and walked back up the hill. What she found when she got to the top of the hill shocked me. Her school had been blown up. She never told me if there were survivors, or what happened after that.
She then began to tell me there was a point in time in her life where she had to leave her home to find safety. She would travel from different locations, stopping at houses looking for food. Kind strangers would give her something to eat, but would tell her she could not take anything with her. This was because soldiers would attack the homes of the people that helped this innocent girl just try to survive. She then told me they would dig holes to sleep for just a moment when traveling, because if they stayed too long, soldiers would throw bombs in their burrows to kill them.
What I mentioned are just a few of the things she went through. Yet she is still one of the kindest people I have ever known. She didn’t let the struggles she faced harden her heart.
She has four children, three of which she adopted. She took these children in because their parents were killed or they didn’t have a home. I can remember her telling me should would tell her husband not to go into the back bedroom because she had found and taken in another child. Through all of her own pain and suffering, she had so much love to give. She wanted to help these children escape a life on the run as she once had. Give them something more than shelter, give them a home.
I can remember her or her husband picking me up from school every day when I was a little girl. And every day I was just as excited as the day before to go over and play. I walked out the back of my elementary school across the playground and walked up smiling to great either of them. Then one day she became very sick. So sick they had to put a halo on her.
Imagine a back brace with two metal rods that stick up straight into the air in the front and in the back. Those four rods are then screwed into the skill and secured with a metal circle around the top. I know this sounds confusing, painful, and scary, and it was. It pained me so much to see her like that, someone I loved so much suffering when she’s been nothing but kind and loving.
There was a period of time where she thought she may not live. When my mom sat me down to tell me the news I was heartbroken. I couldn’t imagine not seeing her almost every day. I remembered she let my sister and I, who she also babysat, pick out jewelry in case she did pass. She wanted us to have something to remember her by. I have a necklace that I still wear to this day and cherish. It is a simple gold necklace with a single jade bead. Whenever I wear it I feel as though I’m taken back through time. That same little girl sitting with her having tea parties, playing board games, and swinging on that swing set.
Thank God she survived and is still with us today. I cannot imagine having grown up without her influence. She is someone who never got angry in times would most people would become upset. She always carried herself with grace. She is someone who has survived more than I ever have or most likely will. In times when I am quick to anger or think life is unfair, I try to remember that things can always be worse, and people go through the same struggles or much worse every day and still choose to be kind, loving, and hopeful. That is what she always is.
I always find it ironic when she got sick that she had to wear a halo. She never complained about the pain or the fact she may not live. She still played with me, just a little girl, not understanding the magnitude of the situation. She still made time for me in her life when her time could have been short. She loved me as her own and that is something I will always treasure. She suffered so much, but never let is phase her. As they say, James Russell Lowell once said, “all angels come to us disguised” and I truly believe she is an angel to this day.