Fragile

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I woke up doing good. I got the kids off to school. Then, something changed. I started thinking about the time when I told my 93 year old grandma that I had to do jury duty. She responded by saying, “Well, that’s an honor.” She may be the only person that could have said that to me and made me completely change my perspective. After all, she knew what it was like to be a woman and not have rights. The right to vote. The right to speak up and be heard. The right to sit as a juror.

I started to tear up, thinking she’s not going to be around forever. Then, I had an urgent feeling to put on my shoes, get in the car and go visit with her. I would drop by McDonalds and get her a coffee. She loves McDonalds coffee. I felt grateful that she was alive, and that I could drive 15 minutes and be in the same room with her. I had gone upstairs to change clothes and I came back down. My husband asked, “What happened?” when he saw my splotchy face. I’ve always suffered from the puffy, snotty, splotchy outward signs of crying.

“I have to go see my grandma.”

Then, I started off with my youngest boy in the car, headed to the McDonalds drive through. When I got trapped in the drive through, I was a sobbing mess. I couldn’t back up or pull around and I could barely say the words, “Two coffees and a milk.” I handed the woman my debit card and she could tell something was wrong. She could have charged me a hundred dollars and never given me my card back and I would not have noticed. I knew I needed to pull myself together but I had succumbed to my fragile state. Broken. Thinking. Over Feeling.

I’m a lot sensitive when it comes to complicated issues where people are being hurt, discriminated against or made to feel shame. I get emotional. Overly. And sometimes irrationally. My brain grabs my heart and it gets real messy. Real fast. Because I know that deep rooted, curled up, crying in fetal position lonesome pain that cannot be healed by even the strongest narcotics. The pain of an unfortunate circumstance. The pain caused by another. The pain caused by disappointment. Illness. A few diseases. A cruel, unfair, inexperienced, calloused, shame-inducing, want-to-change-people’s hearts right this moment kind of pain.

I was having a conversation with my mom on the phone. I got passionate, then emotional. I hurt for all kids or adults that are too scared or in too much present pain to speak up for their future. Sometimes it would be nice if my van could go into auto pilot mode for me when I’m driving and crying. Don’t honk at me. Or do. I don’t really care. Can’t you see? I’m crying in here. And trying to make a left turn. That’s hard stuff.

I got to my grandma’s place a few minutes later. I pulled myself together. You just have to when you’ve got a three year old asking you a bazillion questions. When he is unbuckled, I have no choice but to suck up the snot and get moving.

My grandma made everything disappear. She has the most peaceful, calm and uplifting disposition. I know she would rather be in the home that she spent nearly sixty years living in. But she’s always overjoyed to see us walk through her door. And she happily takes ahold of that McDonalds coffee in her arthritic hands and sips it like it’s pure heaven.

She constantly unknowingly reminds me to cherish the simple things in life. Like a boy climbing onto my lap in a room full of empty chairs. “Your mama needs a bigger lap.” She always says. Every time. She has lived an abundantly full life. I get all choked up knowing my boys won’t jump out of the elevator, run down the long hall and barge into her room much longer.

I’m so grateful that they have had the chance to get to know their sweet great Grandma Fritzy. She possesses a gentle power and strength like no other, the power to ease another’s deep rooted pain with her sole existence. Her peaceful, grateful 93 year old disposition has rescued me from my overthinking, overfeeling self several times this week. And to think that she always genuinely thanks me for coming.

“I know you’re busy, Amelia.” She says.

Yes. Never too busy for her. She has helped me realize that people heal other people. Love heals hearts. My grandma has taught me that brokenness is beautiful and inspiring and strong. But it also makes us fragile. Which is not a bad thing.

I’m grateful for a grandma who instinctively knows how to love on me and handle me with care. Always. Unintentionally. It’s just who she is. Her body is fragile but her spirit is strong. Relentless. And selfishly, I wish she could live forever.

Driveway Hugs

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I started to put the car in drive. Then, I looked up to see one of my seven year old boys running out to my car. I thought he must have left something in the backseat. Or maybe he wanted to tell me not to forget to do something before I left for a long day away at work. Nope. He surprised me. I opened the door and he quickly wrapped his skinny long arms around me. Oh, a hug. He wanted to give me a giant unprompted driveway hug. I held him. Then, I pulled him up onto my lap and asked him a question I already knew the answer to.

“Wanna help me drive around the driveway?”

I didn’t even need to wait for his response. I started to close the door when all of the sudden, another seven year old boy had arrived at my door. His twin brother must have noticed his absence. Or mine. He showed up for a driveway hug too. He assessed the situation and climbed onto my lap for a drive around the circle. Unexpected running hugs from seven year old twin boys deserve a reward. We sat happily crowded together in the front seat. I put the car in drive. They helped me steer and reached their feet down to press on the brake or more accurately, slam on the brake. My cup flew to the passenger side floor board. Cup holders can only do so much. They giggled and may have felt like the coolest two seven year olds on the planet. One loop around and they quickly exited the car after I told them how much I love them.

I’ve been leaving my husband and boys for twelve(-ish) hour weekend option shifts away for seven years. I’ve tried not to sneak away. I’ve wanted them to know I am leaving and will come back home when they’re sleeping. I’ve always hugged my boys repeatedly, kissed my husband, held them tightly and then had to let go. I’m always running late. Always. Over the years, I’ve left screaming babies and sobbing, pleading toddlers, “will you pleeeeeeease not go to wook today?” But I have to. You’ll have fun. You’ll have a good day. You can tell me all about it tomorrow. I always say. I always come back. I say that too. But it’s hard.

So, this morning, when I was on the brink of running late, like I have been for the past seven years, I could have rolled down the window and said, “I’m running late! I’ve gotta go!” But l couldn’t resist my excited, running seven year old boy, that has outgrown his pants, and noticed I had left my parent’s house without a proper departing hug. I had just hugged his brother at the kitchen counter. My mom said, “Pretty soon those legs are going to be touching the ground.” Yes. But not today. I held and squeezed him tightly.

The harsh reality of working in an emergency department teaches you that sometimes moms and dads don’t make it back home. You should always hug readily and tightly those you love before you leave for a long day away. They should always know how very much they mean to you. Just in case.

I will never regret running to the time clock today. Running because I spent an extra couple minutes hugging my first born twin boys in the driveway. And driving dangerously, or so they thought, around the tiny circle driveway in their mama’s lap. I hope they will always remember the sweet moments we have before I leave for work. Not so much the crazy mama getting ready moments, but the family room, kitchen, driveway, and garage hugs.

I always get a little emotional when I leave, as I am driving on the highway. For a lot of reasons, but I always think how hard it is to leave them, how enormously I love them, and how lucky I am to have them to return back home to. I always think…What if I don’t make it back home to them?

Will they know how extraordinary they are? Will they know how much joy they bring me? Will they know that the world is better because they’re here? Will they know that it’s always worth being a few minutes late to hug the ones you love the very most?

The answer today and the answer I would love to think that they know everytime one of us leaves each other is, “Yes.” Always. Some things will always be worth being late for. Driveway hugs just so happen to be one of them.