A few years back, we wanted to impress upon our sports-loving kids that the game officials needed to be acknowledged. Even though we don’t always agree with their calls (okay you can stop snickering now), we wanted our kids to understand those folks in the stripes gave up time with their own families to benefit them. Our children’s job was to personally walk over and thank the officials at the conclusion of every game. It took a few times before that became a habit. I am proud to say that many of their teammates now follow suit. When my kids first started doing that, many of the officials were stunned. Creating a spirit of good sportsmanship, a hand shake or high five was just a small acknowledgement, but it went a long way. As time wore on, those methods of thanks were replaced with Howie Mandel’s ubiquitous fist bump, lovingly referred to as knuckles around our house.
Over the course of the last week, I wrote a reflective blog on my perceived strength and another that bared my soul regarding my personal grief journey. Grief ebbs and flows, and we have many good days. Every once in a while, at obvious times like last Wednesday, but just as often at seemingly random moments, the grief “monster” will rear his ugly head. Writing allows me to acknowledge the monster, and then as if almost by magic, with each word written, the monster loses his power. By releasing my emotions, God allows my storms to calm. For that, I will always be grateful.
Another thing that God has provided in my journey is amazing, loving, caring, forgiving, and understanding friends. Only a handful of them know what I am about to share, and I refer to them as my inner sanctum, the refuge where I can be me.
I have always bristled when someone has remarked about my strength or faith. In those previous two blogs, hopefully, you can somewhat understand why I don’t always see strength when the scars on my broken heart are still so raw. So I was astounded when one in the inner circle made the “strength” remark at a 4H potluck, our annual Christmas party, (always held in January).
As soon as the words were uttered, I said, “Can we just put this nonsense to rest?”. Eyes bewildered, everyone at the table stared in disbelief. Quickly, I shared a story that had all eyes looking at our table.
This is that story . . .
The first Christmas without Reed was just plain agonizing. My beloved Nanny had given us money as a gift with the stipulation that we should go and do something together as a family. We decided to spend New Year’s Day doing something most of us find therapeutic. Notice I said most of us, my sweetie would probably rather have listened to nails on a chalkboard, but he was a good sport and went with us to a paint your own pottery studio.
We painted and glazed and used every ounce of creativity we could muster. Our thoughts never lingered far away from the hole in our hearts. Putting on a brave front, we tried to go through the motions.
Once our pieces were finished, it was time to make the hour and half trip back home. A quick glance at my watch told me that we could still hit, “Happy Hour”! I know what you are thinking. She took her kids to get half-priced drinks. What kind of mother is she?
Well, she is one that loves a good deal and an even better limeade! I steered that mini-van to the closest Sonic where we loaded up on our favorite beverages for the road. At this point in our healing journey, we were still dealing with night terrors, heavy doses of medications, wheelchairs, and daily hospital visits for therapies. Exhaustion came easily.
Every single person in the van was sound asleep by the time we made it from the speaker to the drive-thru window. So I could have kept this story to myself and only one other person would have EVER KNOWN.
In my defense, I was as equally tired as my passengers, but as the driver I didn’t have the luxury of a nap.
As soon as I reached the window, I knew we were in trouble. Seriously, how hard is it to make 3 milkshakes and 2 limeades when those items are the bread-n-butter of your franchise? Apparently the answer to that question is a LONG time.
That will be $6.30.
In one swift motion, I handed him my debit card.
Then he walked away, not to be seen again for quite some time. Impatiently, I sat there long enough that I could have milked a cow and squeezed the limes myself. Then, through the window came the first milkshake. Chocolate, and lots of it, was literally dripping down the side of the cup.
Perturbed and exhausted, my response to a lap full of cacao and dairy was an eye roll and, “Um! Napkins???” said with a tone of exasperation.
Oh yeah. Here.
This was, of course, said with about as much enthusiasm as if I had asked him if he wanted to clean the clog in my bathroom sink.
Another really long wait before he handed me two limeades. I wish I could tell you that this was a better experience. It, however, was not – as these too had as much carbonated beverage on the outside as in. Thank goodness when he gave me napkins earlier he had given half of the dispenser.
On a positive note, it was Sonic and not Subway; so, I am not really complaining about the extra napkins.
Then there was the equally awkward moment of silence when I didn’t drive away immediately. At this point, my-I-hope-for-his-sake-trainee frankly looked irritated that I just sat there.
With my best one eye eyebrow raise, I proffered, “Perhaps I could have my debit card and receipt.”
His look of shock was almost worth this ridiculous adventure. I could see him shimmy to the till nearly knocking over one of the carhops.
He came back with my debit card and receipt. Now, I could have just driven off, but I am hopeless when it comes to misplacing things. I purposely took the few seconds to actually return those items to their proper spots in the black hole, I mean, my purse. Just as I was getting ready to roll up the window, I saw his outstretched fist out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head just in time to hear him say, “Hey. Hold up!”
Knowing full well, I had everything I ordered, my debit card, and don’t forget enough extra napkins to host a dinner party, I just shrugged my shoulders and did what anyone would do in this situation.
For a fleeting second, I thought, “Well this is different”, but I am all for making peace when I can.
Fingers curled . . . I gave my new found “friend” a fist bump.
A barely perceptible smirk crawled across his lips.
Well, that was nice and all, but here’s your mints.
Even the so-called strong have their moments.
With tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks, I laughed the entire way home, and it had been a long time since I had laughed like that.
Wonder Twins Power: Activate – Sonic Dude!
And to you my dear friends: Knuckles to you!