Thursday, May 24, 2012

Better late than never.

I sent my Boo off to stay with my parents over MEA weekend this year.

Some of you might pause at that. Those of you that have heard stories of my father.

Guess what?

My Boo has a relationship with my dad that I wish I had. I am not going to let anger and hurt from the past ruin what is the present or the future.

She has an understanding with him that I never did.

That silly universe has gone and done it again....

My father has been in the military in some form or another for most of his adult life. He ran his home, much like the service. When you were asked to do something you did it quickly, efficiently and with no questions asked.... well you did that if you were my sisters.

If you were me you felt the need to ask why, and move at your own pace, and sometimes not understanding the directive, or that the request was time sensitive you didn't accomplish the task without severe consequences.

My father was also an alcoholic. Which led to lots of angry unjustified "punishments" which in turn fueled the injustice I felt grow right along with me in each passing year.

By the time I graduated high school I wanted to move away and never come back. Ever.

All of this changed when I had my daughter. I felt compelled to go "home" to see them as often as possible, instead of my normal once or at the most twice a year visits made only out of guilt and obligation.

What was the difference you ask?

I watched him actually be invested in her life. From the moment I brought her home, he held her and talked to her, and paid attention to her, almost non-stop.

I remember when I was small and wanted his attention, and all he wanted to do was sit and watch 60 minutes and have a beer. It didn't really bother me too much then, I had my sister to bug instead, but sometimes it felt a little lonely or that I was a bother.... the big issues were his temper and his drinking.

I shook myself from the memory before I went any deeper.

We visited a lot from when she was born until she was 5. Then I think weekends were taken up by work and eventually rehearsals for festival. And if I'm completely honest, I think I really enjoyed the weekends being at my parents when she was smaller, as a single mom it was the only time I could get a few minutes to myself... and I could NAP!!! Oh what a joy napping is when you are the parent of a small child that is full of never ending energy. As she got older, I could let her wake up on her own and I could enjoy the comforts of my own bed.

Selfish I know.

Still I felt that guilt. That any weekend I had available I should in fact be driving the 3.5 hours one way to bring her down to visit them.

Being the selfish person I am... I started letting her go by herself, cuz really, its not so much that they enjoyed time with me... it was all about the Boo.

My dad sent me a picture this weekend while she was down there. A picture of a little girl on a giant 4-wheeler.

"She rides that herself" I asked with a bit of concern, and a lot of shock.

"Oh yeah, I give her the keys and she puts it in gear and off she goes."

"I can't even get her to steer her bike without going off the path...."

"Oh I let her know if she goes to fast, that the keys are taken away and it's off limits, it's fine." He said reassuringly.

Immediately I was taken back to 16 year old me coming home 5 minutes past midnight and placing the keys on the kitchen table knowing I had blown the right to use the car for a month.

Yep. 5 minutes... even 1 minute late and she knew the consequence. No car for 1 month. No arguing. No questions. No excuses.

When I was the child... I hated not being able to ask questions or let him know that it wasn't my fault because so and so wouldn't get in the car and I couldn't just leave her... so really... if you would just listen, I'm sure you'd understand and I would still be able to use the car..... It's funny how life changes. How something so seemingly clear seems so opposite yet just as clear from the other side. Life is a never ending journey of lessons and wonder. I know that every time I have been adamant about something, the universe has chosen to jump up and place that exact situation in front of me to test whatever conclusion I had come to, and most of the time I have learned that there is no clear "one" right way. Because in fact you can look at the same situation from a different perspective and draw a vastly different conclusion. If you would've told 16 year old me that I would have the relationship with my father that I do now, or that my daughter would have the relationship with her grandfather that she does now I would've laughed and thought you were utterly ridiculous. The only thing I know for sure, is to keep your eyes and heart open on this journey. And try to see things from all sides before drawing any one conclusion.

The Gift

I received an email from a girl I went to high school with back in August. I hadn't spoke with her since high school graduation I believe. She started off her email with an apology because she was contacting me to make a request.

A request on be-half of a family that lived in her community, who was struggling with the biggest battle of their lives. Their 17 year old daughter Jordan was Diagnosed in 2009 with Stage IV Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma and the odds were only a 7% chance she'd beat it. Well this tenacious girl did it, but it had recurred. This time the odds were even more grim.

Jordan had started a bucket list. On this list was "going to the renaissance festival and participating in costume" or something to that effect. My classmate had contacted me about this item, because she knew I was involved in the festival.

I agreed to help immediately. I believe we are all here to be in service to others. That is what this life is about. Not about making the most money, and getting the most "toys". But giving of yourself, walking through this journey with others, helping when you can.

I read her caring bridge, and decided just a dress and tickets in wasn't going to be good enough.

I have worked with the festival since 2000, starting as a wine wench and over the years I learned that it holds many amazing people that do in fact give of themselves readily to help others. I have seen the Renaissance "family" gather together to help others through battles of disease, or other hardships. I knew that together we could make this "EPIC".

I sent out a plea to the cast, and the response was exactly what I expected. People readily jumped up and said "I can do ______ will that help?" I was so excited. We were able to provide them with an amazing day at festival where Jordan was Queen and her whole family was able to participate.

The family is amazing. Jordan is amazing. I had someone tell me that it takes all of 39 seconds to fall in love with Jordan. I think it's even less. The whole family was quickly adopted into "our" family.

It didn't stop at the one event. They were able to come out at least one day of the follow weekends of this past season. I was grateful to see them each time they joined us. They all gave everyone around them so much laughter and joy.

Last night we said our final goodbyes to Jordan. The disease beat her body, but not her spirit. She left us on Dec. 4th 2001 at 12:30am.

We were all around her bed while her mom held her in her arms. I imagine much like she did when Jordan was first born. Her father and her brother each held one hand. The pain that they were going through at this moment was unbearable. But they are all so strong. So strong for Jordan and each other. It was easily the hardest part of my journey so far. And in saying that I feel like the most selfish person on earth.

Really Nixie? The hardest part of YOUR life? Self centered much?

In saying being the hardest part.... I wouldn't do anything differently. There is no place I would've rather been then right by her side as she left this journey to go to her next. It is the highest honor. It is pure love. It's the LEAST I could do for her. For her family.

I've had people thank me for doing what *I* did for them at festival, and in the days since.... and every time someone says that I feel sick to my stomach. You see it's not that I don't appreciate people saying thank you, but it feels so selfish to have someone "thank" me for doing something that is so necessary, so needed, like breathing. A thank you for being someone's friend.

If I would've walked away from this family I wouldn't hurt like I do now. But I also wouldn't have LIVED like I do now. I am blessed by knowing them. By being able to be in Jordans life if even for a short time. She has made me a better person.

Like I said last night, in my weak attempt to pay tribute to the Amazingness that is Jordan:
Jordan is my hero. She has taught me the true meaning of strength, of fortitude, and of kindness. What it means to never give up, to care for others more than yourself, to stand at the edge and shout to the heavens I will not give in without a fight.

There is no thank you needed for being someones friend, for doing something out of love for another human being.....

Funny thing is that said... I feel I need to thank the people that deserve it.
Jackie, my classmate for contacting me and reaching out, and being involved helping others, without you I would've never met them.
Jordan's family.... mom and dad for sharing themselves and their wonderful daughter with this world, brother for being just as amazing as his big sister even though he doesn't believe it yet, little sister, for carrying that sassy attitude forward, I look forward to watching her grow.
The Renaissance Community.... for always being there and being ready when someone sends out a plea for help.

You see, I didn't do anything that wasn't exactly what was planned out for me to do, I did not have a choice but to love. Because that is my belief. We are all in this life together, and helping one another through it is our greatest purpose.