Getting through last week was a feat of olympic proportion.
The tragedy that struck El Reno permeated every single breath. As I sat at the funeral on Friday afternoon, sandwiched in the Field House that held more memories than I have brain space, clinging to the hands of Audra and Delbert, women I have loved for 30 years… I was drowning in it all. The grief, the memory, the juxtaposition of time that landed us in the same place our parents were when we were the students mourning our friends, sitting on those same cold, concrete bleachers.
But I was hugging friends that have known me since way before I knew myself. Different groups, different memories, all grasping for that connection and energy and love. Brooke and Tera- the three of us together again. Beautiful Christy, and Sharon. Friends that I saw from across the way, this room full of validation of a life.
In the heaviness of the grief, were the moments of joy and connection.
And then I got the text that Ty had made his beautiful arrival into this world. Mark’s nephew had his firstborn son, the family had a new baby, and the circle of Life closed and the world turned once more.
Saturday brought a baby shower celebrating the impending arrival of sweet baby Rowan Cook, and once again I was in the middle of a love sandwich. Tammy and Janet and Tammie and Lynsey, these women that I have loved and been loved by for more than 20 years, all in different stages of our life. There was a moment, all too brief, when we sat across from each other on a weekly basis. We mourn the loss of that tradition, and laugh at the roads we’ve walked and shake our heads at the bullshit that is Time and it’s fleeting nature.
Last night I got back to Norman just in time for Mark and I to unload the groceries, grab the camera and race to meet Becky & Scott. Becky is donating some books to a project for the Girl Scouts and we had this awesome 5 minute hug fest, talk laugh talk hug jump back in the car and go!
As we drove away, I looked at Mark and said, “in the last 24 hours I have hugged the people in my life that have known me, loved me. If we squeezed the time together into one ball, it was likely just for 2 hours total, but I’ve seen them. I’ve loved them.”
With each goodbye, the phrase “we have GOT to make time to get together” was spoken more than once, emphatically and serious every time.
I know. Yes. My heart aches for you. All of you.
We went to the hospital and got to hold that precious Ty-nugget last night, as his parents were surrounded by the love and laughter and joy that comes with the freshness of a newborn. It’s the ultimate Etch-a-Sketch clean slate, isn’t it?
If I could say anything to Ty and to Rowan when she gets here…it would be:
Surround yourself with genuine, authentic people who laugh and love with the same force.
Don’t get caught up in the expectations of the world, of your family, of yourself.
Get caught up in living it all. Leap every chance you get.
Your falls will be broken by this family that loves you, as well as the friends you will have.
Our cheers will ring in your ears when you stick the landing.
As I’m prepping for the week that has our first LTYM cast gathering this afternoon, volunteer meetings and luncheons and ends with our first house concert here on Friday night I think about Ty and Rowan. I think about my friends who are mourning their losses. I think about the families who are rejoicing at the progress their children are making. I think about the life I have lived thus far, and how absolutely lucky we all are to have found each other.
For Ty and Rowan, I wish them the circle of friends that I have in you.
That’s the ultimate key to surviving it all.