This Is the Bittersweet

I was going to write a tired blog entry tonight (thanks to Kickstarter, I’m not sleeping much lately…but it’s totally worth it), but then I read one of the most poignant, touching blog entries ever, and I think you’ll benefit more from reading this than anything I could write. I cannot emphasize enough how beautiful this is. [Update: The post was removed from my friend’s site, but my friend gave me permission to post the full text here. See below.]

That One Time I Cried In Front of A Group of Five Year Olds

Yes. This happened.

My family and I went on an amazing mini-vacation this past weekend. I came home so rested and revived. Ready to conquer. Ready to love. Ready to be better.

I spent a lot of time laughing, smiling, and eventually reflecting. All this seeped into the emotion of today’s date, September 11. I’m not one to write a blog post for the sake of an incredible tragedy, but a strange sort of something happened that prompted all this. I mean, I certainly remember and grieve, but I do it in my own way.

After the mini-vacation, while back at work, I picked up a book to read to the children – The Stars Above Us by Geoffrey Norman and illustrated by E.B. Lewis.

The book is about a little girl who is afraid of the dark. Her father takes her outside to show her all the beautiful things that came out at night: the stars, lightning bugs, crickets…

She marvels at the world and isn’t so afraid anymore. They go back into her room and she points out that she doesn’t have any of the beautiful things there in her room with her. The father tells her that they’ll fix that in the morning. Surely, he spends the day cutting out stars with her and pasting them on her ceiling. He tells her he’ll have to go away for a while and that he’ll miss her very much.

I was a little confused at this point, thinking I’d skipped a page, but we hadn’t, so I continued. They showed the mother and daughter together, missing the father. They showed the mother talking on the phone to the father, and then handing the little girl the phone.

He tells her that it’s night-time where he is now. That he’s a little afraid, but he remembers all the beautiful things that come out at night. As I turned the page, the following picture made me stop: the father, dressed in army fatigues, sitting outside a tent in the sand, speaking into a phone.

My eyes watered and my voice choked. I looked out into my captive audience and met the gaze of the one little boy whose father is in the service.

Little Boy: Her dad is in the army and he’s stationed far away.

Me: Yes. (still crying)

Little Boy 2: It looks like you’re about to cry.

Me: I’m fine.

Little Girl: Your eyes are getting all teary.

Me: I’m fine, children. It’s just a sweet story.

Little Girl 2: I’m hungry.

Little Boy 3: Is this because I poked him with a corn dog earlier? Because that made you mad and I won’t ever do that again.

Me: No. (Still choked up) I’m fine. Sometimes things make you a little sad, but you’re still fine.

Little Boy 4: Are you hurt? You’re really crying. Why are you crying?

Me: Children…

Little Boy 5: I love you, Mrs. Teacher. You’re the best teacher ever.

Me: (sobs)

Little Boy 6: I think she’s hurt.

Me: I’m not hurt. Let’s finish the story.

Little Boy 7 (I have a lot of boys): Maybe you’re pregnant. My mom is pregnant and she cries all the time.

Me: I’m not pregnant. Let’s finish the story.

Little Girl 3: Should I go get another teacher? You still look like you’re crying.

Me: No. Moving onto the next page….

And we finished the story.

BUT it just got the emotive juices going. Not a hard thing for me, but I wanted to talk about the mercy of serving and how much we take for granted. That there are families split apart by war or terrorism. There are people who can’t see or hear or walk or speak. Tiny things that you and I take for granted. That on this day of remembering those who lost their lives, I should love and forgive those who have hurt me. I should consider why it is I’m here, that we’re all here.

There’s light and darkness. Healthy things and unhealthy things. People (even good people) who make bad decisions. Parents who get divorced. Parents and friends who die. Gosh it just goes on and on. My heart is heavy with things I don’t understand, but there is a peace to it all, somehow.

That we get back up and we go on. We learn from our grief, from our anger, from our mistakes, and we live.

I think that’s what I’m after.

***

If you have some tears in your eyes and need to smile, go read Katy’s “greatest fear” entry from today. It’s a good one.

Last, if you haven’t backed my Kickstarter project, you didn’t get the update today that contained this video. Today was big, people. Like, lifetime dream big.