Friday, June 19, 2015

The Only Guarantee

What do we say when our hearts break from hearing of tragic news? This week has been full of it. Everywhere I turn there is another death, another heinous act of violence, another scary diagnosis, and another broken heart just trying to live their life.

Relationships are hard. They are hard and tricky and sometimes oh so messy. But when you hear of these tragedies none of that messy stuff matters. You put down your arms of battle and open your arms for embracing one another. Life can be pretty mundane sometimes - but there are other days that just steal your breath away. Isn't it funny how until our walls are broken down do we stop building them up? It takes life changing news to stop us from sitting behind our wall and casting out our piercing arrows. You know the ones that are meant to hurt really bad when they hit? The ugly messy words that you shouldn't say, you know you shouldn't say, but you do it anyways because you're so fed up with dealing with life that you let it all come spilling out.

What will our last words be?

I remember the last conversation I had with a friend. It was move out day from college for the summer. I had waited all day for him to come to his room and move his stuff out. It started to look hopeless and I had this overwhelming sense of panic that I wouldn't see him. Just as I was about to leave he came in. There was 15 minutes for him to move his stuff out of his dorm and he hadn't even packed yet. (Laughing at this now because I realize just how alike we really were). Still he stopped to make time for me and to say goodbye. I was overcome by grief and tears just inconsolably crying. As I sat in front of him and I bawled my eyes out and I said some things that I'll never forget. Ever. I hugged him tight not wanting to let go and I told him that I'm going to miss him. I told him how much I cared about him and how I felt like I was never going to see him again. He called me crazy. He hugged me and told me it was going to be all alright. He told me of course we would see each other again and not to worry. As I drove away I watched him from my rearview mirror. I could have stayed there all day refusing to move, but I knew I had to leave. It doesn't make sense to stand in a place not moving when you have no legit reason why you shouldn't... When all you have is a feeling. I forced myself to get in my car. I forced myself to put on my seatbelt and shift my car in drive. I let myself look back in the rearview mirror of my red Honda civic and then I forced myself to keep going almost certain I'd never see him again.

A few weeks later I spent hours standing in the pouring rain waiting to say goodbye to him again. Only this time I couldn't see his face. I wouldn't want to even if I could they told me. I couldn't hug him and he most certainly couldn't talk back to me from the walls of his casket. I couldn't make eye contact with his best friend because Lord knows I didn't know what to say. 

Just a few months before I had broken down one night - I'm not normally this girl who walks around with this heavy weight of doom around her. But for whatever reason I was so overcome by this sense that something bad was about to happen. It could be because former classmates had died in a car accident the week before. But no matter the reason there was a random onslaught of tears one night when it was just the two of us. When I say random, I mean random. I remember calling for him. I remember just wanting him there by my side. One of my friends found him and told him and he came to see me. The next thing I remember I was a heaping mess. I can still remember him saying "What's wrong? What happened?" He was ready to fight the guy who hurt me. He was ready to console my broken heart. But he wasn't expecting what I said next. Through tears I told him that I felt like something bad was going to happen to him and I didn't want him to die. Yup. Hard swallow. I begged him to wear his seatbelt, not to drink and drive. I pleaded with him to not drive fast. I told him I felt like something bad was going to happen to him. I can still remember the look in his eyes as he promised me nothing was going to happen, he wasn't going anywhere.

You can probably guess how he died. 

I wish this story was something that I made up. I know it probably sounds that way. The whole thing is so surreal. When I look back on all of it, it feels like something out of a movie. Almost as if the whole thing was staged. I haven't talked about these events with many people. But I want to share it because I know I was given an opportunity to share my heart with him unfiltered. God prepared me for his loss and allowed me to tell him how much he meant to me. That's the good I want us all to receive out of his death.

I'm so grateful that for whatever reason that pushed me to, that I was given the opportunity to express how much I cared. Even though they were desperate pleas for his life, I still told him how much he meant to me. He knew and I knew that we both cared for each other as more than friends. Neither of us knew what would happen down the road for our friendship but we both had this deep love for each other that I can't explain to you. It wasn't being in love. It was different. We talked and our conversations would end up in deep and meaningful places. Places no other friend had ever gone with me. He shared parts of his heart and it was beautiful. To this day I can't say any person has opened up to me so easily before. We talked about death and life and how much we loved our friends and family. We never had to climb over each others walls to get to the point, our walls were down and open to give and receive back the kind of communication that I wish we all could have with each other.

I won't forget how we cared for each other. How we never spoke harshly to one another even though I can still tell you an incident I regret where I know I hurt him. He hurt me too. We didn't know better, we were just college kids trying to figure out how to get by. Yet - we shared this connection that I know will go beyond the grave. I try to make all my relationships meaningful. Maybe I take it too far sometimes. I may be too sappy, use too many heart emoticons or tell people I love them too easily. But you know what? At the end I want to know that I showed my love and appreciation for each and every person I come in contact with.

That's what we do with this sad news. We support one another through all these hardships. We don't forget to tell people how much they mean to us. We hug our friends goodbye before we walk out the door. We thank God that He gets us from point A to point B safely and that we get to have another day on this earth with each other. That's all we can do. Be loving and kind and then thankful for what we have.

Sometimes life becomes so repetitive that we forget that all it takes is a split second. We never know when life will change but there's one thing we can guarantee.... Life will change. Let's use these hard times as a catalyst to draw closer to our friends, family and Jesus. 

One bright morning when this life is over 
I know, I'll see your face. 

[in loving memory, jeff monica 5.29.03, thank you for being a light during such a dark time, and thank you that the light still burns bright after all these years without you.]

Monday, June 15, 2015

My Week In Review

Last week was really great. It's not often that I say things are great or even good for that matter. But all in all, last week felt like a turning point. This is not to say that emotionally I didn't struggle, in fact this past week emotions actually ran high. It felt like a constant battle between my happiness and my battle scars.

I thought it'd be fun to switch it up a bit and report on what I did last week. Partially because I'm still so excited about my week and partially because I am too lazy to handwrite all this out! ;)

I'll start with Tuesday. I was finally able to join some friends in the Federal Hill Stroll after years and years of wanting to do it! Actually, it has probably only been two years because I think that's how long I've known it existed, but I digress. You get this button to wear and a map of all the participating locations in the neighborhood of Providence's Little Italy. Each location that participated gave out samples of food and we also had two drink tickets!

It was a gorgeous night and we definitely got our fill. Some highlights:

The cupcakes at Scialo. OH. EM. GEE. So delicious! A few months ago I went to a state cupcake challenge, Scialo beat all the ones I tried there. Just sayin'

The strawberry sangria at Andino's was perfectly refreshing. It really was one of the most tasty sangrias I've had in a while and the strawberries tasted like they had been plucked locally that day. We might have stuck our fingers in our drinks to get all of them. :)

The bolognese at Zooma had miniature gnocchi's and they were so amazing!

The burgers at Harry's on the Hill had us agreeing we all needed to go back soon.

Just Yum.

Friday I met up with a friend and we got pedicures, hooray for finally being able to wear flips without shame! We ended up at Bluewater in Barrington for dinner. We started with the most amazing fried yellow tomato appetizer, our sparkling peach raspberry sangria was super yummy and served in a mason jar, so bonus points, and my scallops and risotto had me scraping the plate. I will say I wasn't crazy about their pudding chocolate cake. I really expected pudding consistency with cake mixed in but it was a very dense rich chocolate cake. It looks like pudding, but it wasn't soft. Good, but not what I expected.

We ended the night curled up in her bed watching Pitch Perfect 2. Her husband said we ruined our chance for a night out but if you ask me the night was perfect!

Saturday a friend and I went to breakfast at a new (to me) place called English Muffin. I resisted ordering the fruit stuffed french toast and ordered just some eggs and bacon with toast. We sat outside, al fresco - my favorite! (as I did at all my other locations, too!). It was such a great spot and the time spent with my friend was so encouraging and sweet. I just adore her.

In the afternoon I shopped a local garden shop, Jacavone, I've been wanting to visit and brought home a few pots of flowers and a pot of basil. It was a nice relaxing time followed by lounging out by the pool. I even went swimming which is something I hardly ever do - but when you have the entire pool to yourself, you just do it! 

Saturday night another friend came over and we tried the new Thirsty Beaver in Smithfield. We sat outside which was wonderful until the sun went down. I'm feeling the mosquito bites something fierce today. We ordered these pulled pork mac and cheese rolls for an app. So yum! And I got a burger for dinner which was tasty but really greasy. The sweet potato fries were on par though!

Then we drove down to Providence. They were having their International Arts Festival for the first year - streets were closed off. A local art company went through and painted a bunch of buildings to bring more art into the community. Makes this girls heart soar! There were bands everywhere, food trucks, craft vendors, and on and on. Also, there was a Waterfire so we checked that out too! The city was alive. It was really awesome.

We walked around a bit and then checked out Providence G which is Providence's only rooftop bar. It was nice but a lot smaller than I expected. We were able to be seated at a table even though we were only ordering a drink. This was good because it was crowded and I don't know any girl who likes to stand at a bar and wait for the bartender to notice her. We got a strawberry drink - it was really good however I'm not convinced it wasn't just fruit juice! The place was really neat but at $11 a drink it's not the kind of place you spend the night. Plus they were closing earlier than most places in Providence. The waitress explained to us that because it's a tenement building they can't stay open later than 12. I could have done without the tiny elevator ride down with the guys who had too much to drink though (stairwells are for emergency's only and forbidden otherwise!)

Sunday I spent some time with family for my 'mom's' birthday. Then I joined up with the Rhode Explorer ladies to go on a sunset kayaking tour with Narrow River Kayaks in Narragansett. It was quite lovely! Everything was so serene, we saw a deer along the river and some cranes. The sunset was a soft sky and the water was so calm by the end that I could have sat out there until the stars came out. Just lovely!

Here's to more weeks like this. Enjoying life to the fullest. Now I just need to find a way to do it on a strict budget. I definitely went over this week but at least I can say I absolutely enjoyed myself. Feels so wonderful to be able to experience life again and in a new way. There's more freedom now and I'm so grateful for the shift I've noticed. Life is hard but it is so so good.