Sunday, May 10, 2015
But I wonder what would happen if you...
...Say what you wanna say
and let the words fall out
I wanna see you be brave
-Sarah Bareilles, Brave
What does bravery look like? Over the years, folks have told me that I'm brave for watching Jay through multiple heart surgeries, for holding out hope while he was on life support, for letting him loose to be a kid after his miraculous recovery. I've been told I was a brave daughter, helping my mom through cancer and hospice and then saying goodbye.
None of those things felt especially brave to me because none of them were my choice. If you heard the words "heart failure," you'd get your kid to surgery. If you heard "brain metastasis," you'd hold her hand and cry, just like I did. You'd keep putting one foot in front of the other because there is no option to crawl in a hole. There is no sand to bury your head in. You wake up, you do your thing, and you don't stop moving.
Bravery for me looks a whole lot more like the picture above. That's me, on stage with a dozen incredible women who have transformed from strangers to amazing friends. These women were brave enough to stand up in front of 500 people to tell their stories, to share their strength, through Listen To Your Mother. We poured our hearts out into the universe, trusting that people would laugh at the right moment and shed a tear with us.
We trusted that the audience would have that "Me too!" moment of connection through our stories. We opened ourselves to others in the most vulnerable ways. It was terrifying and incredible and empowering and exhausting. As I try to describe it, I know that my words are not coming close to capturing what this experience meant to me - from the moment I auditioned to the moment I walked off that stage, holding hands with the women above. But it sure felt like the bravest thing I've done in a while. It has made me want to tell my stories, to capture and preserve and share what means something to me.
Over the course of the last week, I've survived the anniversary of mom's death, several nights of intensely emotional stories about our relationships as mothers, and now Mother's Day. It's the kind of week that would have typically left me in a tearful puddle, desperately wanting a hug from my mama and pissed off at the universe that she wasn't in that auditorium watching me. But I'm not puddling at the moment. I'm smiling, so incredibly grateful for the gift of writing that I got from my mom, so grateful for the 30-odd years I had learning from the best. This non-puddly-ness surprises me, and I'm still trying to figure out how to bottle it up for the days when I am not feeling quite so brave.
I have a million thoughts about this LTYM experience and how I've been changed. They are big and small, but the one that keeps coming through is that I want to write more, to tell my story. I wish that I had more of my mom's stories written down. I would give anything to hear her stories told in her own voice.
My writing muscles are rusty. I string together a few words and I think that what is on the page sucks. Some of it does. But I know that the only way out is through, to write and edit and delete and write and write and write some more. I'm not promising daily posts here - that's going from brave to flat out lying. (Laundry calls, my friends.) But here I am, bravely promising to start writing again, because all of us have stories to share.