Nope. Not a post about finances....but about FRIENDS.
First of all, if I learned ANYTHING from Melissa, it was to B POSITIVE. (I'm TRYING...REALLY). She ALWAYS had a funny story or anecdote in her posts, even when things weren't going so well. So I need to do the same. There are PLENTY of funny stories about Fort, so I'll share a few of the favorites...
We had a great priest at Ascension back in the late 80s that started every sermon with a joke. He grabbed your attention right away and pulled you in. Maybe that's where Fort got it. Anyway, one Saturday, we got a late start to Mass, walked in a couple minutes after it started. Immediately an usher, FRONT and CENTER holds up two fingers and motions for us to come to the front...Father Rudy stopped, looked at us and said "If you get here early, you get the good seats in the back..."
If you knew Melissa at all, you know that she HATED to have any attention brought to her...I know we BOTH felt like crawling under the seats. Church was OF COURSE packed and people were straining their necks to see WHO he was talking about.
Needless to say, we were never late to mass again.
Another favorite Fort story - she got her first "real" job at Stan the Donut Man.
The first day or so, they had her working the counter - selling donuts, working the register, pouring coffee. She LOVED that. She loved interacting with the customers.
Just when she was getting comfortable with THAT, Sylvia, the older, more experienced co worker, said "Ok Melissa. Now you need to learn how to work in the back." One part was cleaning up the fryers and the racks that were covered with hardened glaze.
As Sylvia walked out to the front, she said "you need to use a lot of elbow grease to get those clean Melissa." A couple of minutes later, Melissa poked her head out the door and asked "Hey Sylvia, where's the elbow grease?"
Of course all of the customers started cracking up, and Melissa had NO IDEA what they were laughing about! (of course I mentioned elbow grease to her when she was growing up, it was obvious she never listened!)
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So. Mutual Bonds. Friends.
We went to the Compassionate Friends meeting last Thursday. We had a great speaker. The topic was Mutual Bonds. He started with story when Christians were persecuted and how they communicated to others that they were Christians because of the fear of being put to death...it was very interesting. He then compared that to our group, and how we were all together because we had something in common, the loss of a child (or children), and how these will be lifetime friendships.
We have been going for about a year, and have made some wonderful friends. It is the one place you can go, say ANYTHING you want, and EVERYONE truly understands. At the end of the meeting, he asked if there were any questions, or anything anyone wanted to talk about.
There were a few questions, one being "is anyone else afraid of losing ANOTHER child?" He put it out to all of us. "Does anyone else ever think about that?"
EVERY hand went up. There were probably 40 people at this meeting.
So one person wonders "am I the only one that feels this way?" and we find out we are ALL feeling the same way. Pretty much about everything.
Other concerns were things that people say that bother us. Again he put it back on US. "YOU are the teachers. If you've never lost a child, you DON'T know what to say, what to do. YOU teach us. If something bothers you, tell the person."
Then I thought about when Melissa lost HER son. I was in the same position as YOU.
I had no idea what she was going through or HOW she was feeling. I was really insensitive, at least on one occasion that I remember. It was Christmas Eve. The only thing I EVER wanted for Christmas was for our whole family to go to Mass together. She didn't want to go (it was only TWO MONTHS after she lost HER son).
I begged her to go. So she did. When we got to church, the family that sat in front of us had a brand new baby. She was devastated. And I had NO idea how she was feeling...because I had never been in her shoes. And she is not here now, and I can't take back what I did, but I can maybe help someone else if they are ever in the same position (God forbid)...I look back on that and am horrified that I did that to her.
But I didn't know.
So that's why I post what I post. Because I'm a teacher. And I hope that it helps you understand where "we" are coming from. Will we ever get "better"? On the outside, maybe. But on the inside the hole in our heart will always be there. The pain will never go away. (the puzzle is going off...I think she's ok with what I'm writing here...) So let us talk. Let us cry. It's a healing process that will go on for the rest of our lives, I'm sure. We will always miss her. But we will keep on living our lives.
I had TWO teachers - my mom (who lost HER son) and my daughter (who lost HER son)...and what I learned from them is to keep on living. But what I have learned from my friends at Compassionate Friends is it's OK to talk about them so you CAN go on with your life. For me, it keeps her close to me.
And while I'm on the subject of friends, one things that makes me smile is getting together with Melissa's friends. And in the last couple of weeks, I spent a little time with several of her friends. They are treasures, and I hope they never stop calling, sharing stories and just keeping in touch. It keeps US going.
Fort's best friends in high school...Tracy, Bone & Angie...
Fort's best friend from OU, Stacy (and me)...When Stacy had Emma, Fort was Emma's first friend. When she had Luke, Fort was Luke's first friend. When the new baby arrives, I GET TO BE the FIRST FRIEND. Thanks Stacy...this means SO much to me!
Max & Drew on their motorcycles...just having fun...
Oh...one more thing to think about from Compassionate Friends....
(NO ONE expects or ever IMAGINES that they will lose a child. The order should be
grandparents, then your parents, then you. Not your children first. Unfortunately, that's not the way it works...)
"We are all in line. We just don't know WHERE we are in line."
Enjoy every day. And make today a GREAT one.