Tuesday, March 29, 2011

True Colors...

I can still smell the summer air and feel the sun on my shoulders as we all enjoyed being young, trying hard to impress one another with our cartwheels, back walk-overs and how well we could get our legs down into the grass into a perfect split.

I wasn't as good as the rest of them.

People, I was not blessed with athleticism...

I could do it...

I just didn't look good doing it.

And, then there was Melissa.

She was about as big as a minute and could leap through the air with the most amazing grace that any of us had ever seen. Even at our tender ages, we all knew Melissa had something special.

She could start a sprint at one side of the yard and never stop flipping until she reached the other side, and she executed it perfectly.

Being competitive as we all were and as talented as she was, you'd think she'd have bragged on how much better she was than we, but not Melissa...

That tiny bit of a girl would get in that yard and lift us and instruct us, telling us exactly what to do next so that we could be as graceful as she.

But, you see, those were her true colors...




As we grew into teenagers, we did what most of us all do and after high school, we really lost track of one another.

Naturally, I'd hear a bit here and a bit there about her, her life and her children, but I honestly couldn't tell you the last time I saw her.

Although I don't know her story, I know her life held some challenges for her, and as Melissa always seemed to do, she overcame...

And, she didn't do it the normal way...

She did it her way...

Over the top...

Bigger and better...

Encouraging everyone she met, lifting them and instructing them, telling them exactly what to do next so that they could be as graceful as she.

She made peace with her God and it was obvious in everything she did and every person she touched.

Melissa knew God, and she knew God in a mighty way.

This world lost Melissa on Sunday.

Since then, I've thought and thought and thought of her and one word alone resonates with me...


I remember her, tiny as she was, lifting my legs into the air (and struggling to get her arms high enough to get to my feet) and saying, "Now, point your toes, bend your legs just a little and go on over."

I think of her, and the vision of her so effortlessly flipping herself into the air is what I see.




She didn't want to keep what she had just for herself. She wanted to share it.

I know that today she sits in the lap of God.

I know that, in spite of everything, my friend has heard the words, "Well done."

And, it was well done, Melissa.

It was done Melissa-style...




Over the top.

Bigger and better.

And, with absolute humility.

Because those were your true colors.

They are beautiful.

Like the rainbow.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

And I Won't Let Go...

I held my breath and dialed the number, counting the rings...


I dreaded this call.


I hated what I was about to be forced to say.


I hated to be the messenger that morning.

The raspy "hello" coming through the receiver told me that my beloved childhood friend already knew what I was calling to say.

He and I sat there talking, processing what he was feeling, grieving the loss of his dad.

Familial relationships are, quite honestly, the most cruel and complex relationships we will ever have. The people who are supposed to never turn their back on us sometimes do, and the realization that this time the clock can't be turned back is absolute torture, even if you are blameless, and it is cruel.

If I could carry him in my pocket where the world couldn't touch him, I promise you, I'd do it.

But I can't do that.

So, instead, I just listened to him and let him feel what he was feeling.

I will stand in the gap for him. He would do it for me.


"It's just stuff, honey. It's going to be alright," I whispered in his ear as I hugged him.

"It's just stuff," he repeated back, as he stared at nothing in particular somewhere in the distance. He didn't believe me, but somehow, I think he thought if he said it, it would make him believe.

His eyes were as tired as I had ever seen them, and they held a secret pain that I hadn't seen there in quite a long time.

I understood that look.

I understand that feeling.

I've been there, standing in what was once my home that somehow, in a matter of just a few hours, suddenly feels oddly foreign. It's still your house, but you realize the dynamic of how home is now defined has changed, and as much as we believe we're ready for it, we are not.

God didn't ordain marriage that way, and you are never more accutely aware of that fact than you are in that particular second.

If I could carry him in my pocket where the world couldn't touch him, I promise you, I'd do it.

But I can't do that.

So, instead, I just held him and let him feel what he was feeling.

I will stand in the gap for him. He would do it for me.


I walked in the house and went to look for her. I found her in the living room, working diligently.

"It's really not that bad," I said to her.

She looked up at me, "No, it's not, but it's got Dad in knots, and I've got to fix it. I can't let my dad feel this way."

As we went about the business of organizing what needed to be done, I looked at her...

Such a beautiful young woman, who for that instant, wasn't worried about anything except her dad and righting his world.

At that second, a respect for her grew within me that I don't think could ever be challenged. She has character. And it runs deep. And it's very rare to find in one so young.

I was honored. It was as if I was granted priviledge to witness her grow right before my eyes.

I knew what she was feeling. I, too, would move heaven and earth to protect my dad.

If she could carry him in her pocket where the world couldn't touch him, I promise you, she'd do it.

But she can't do that.

So, instead, she just did what she could do and let him feel what he was feeling.

She will stand in the gap for him. He has done it for her.


Painfully aware of the human condition this week and how fragile we truly are, I saw love in action, and even though the pain was as real as anything could possibly be, love was even moreso.

We all need to know someone is on our side...

That someone cares...

That we are not alone.

That someone stands by us...

And they won't let go.

My hope for us all, my friends, is that none of us are ever alone, and that as long as we live, someone is there to stand in the gap for us.

Hold the ones you love tightly.

And, don't let go.