Monday, March 14, 2016

My Samara Story

This story will start off sad. I promise you, though, it is not a sad story. Rather, a story of one of the greatest lessons I learned in my life, so far. I say so far because, lately, every single day seems to be a new lesson. Just the other day, Ashlea and I joked that we were tired of learning so many lessons. And, then, I remembered, my Samara story. A story I wrote weeks ago. A lesson I learned and carry with me each day since our encounter. Samara changed me in a huge way. Samara showed up when I needed her most. Samara is only six years old.

Just so you know...whenever I go quiet and am absent from this space, it’s usually because I am having a really hard time. I don’t go quiet because I can’t write or function anymore. I go quiet because my goal is to lift you all up, as you have me. I go quiet because when life gets really, really hard, I become a mack truck of not so lift you all up emotions. I stay quiet because a wise friend once told me it is better to just stay quiet sometimes. 

The defintion of really, really hard, well, it changes daily.  A few years ago, I would be grateful for my recent definition of hard. Even, I, forget those long and dark days when survival was my only concern. Which, hopefully, gives the suffering some kind of hope - this too shall pass and the worst moments will be hard to remember and normal stuff will be hard again. 

So, life got all regular hard, and as I do, I shut down. After a few days of this state, I went to the well. I set the alarm again for the crack of dawn and meditated in the bathroom, long before the sun rises. I meditate in the bathroom in January and February because it is the warmest room in my house. I wrap a blanket around my shoulders, light a candle, turn off the lights, and try to forget about the toilet. The bathroom works for me right now and I go with it. Sometimes, I need to do what works and, sometimes, that just means quiet and alone time in my warm bathroom. This ritual brings clarity and peace. And, it is during this quiet time that I allow all of the soot to filter to the bottom and for all of good and sparkly to rise to the top. Sparkly stuff, like that early morning, when I thought about Samara. Like, the many early mornings, I thought about Samara.

Right in the middle of my shut down mode, I drove up to Ashlea’s house for a bitterly cold, January afternoon toddler, milk and cookies themed birthday party. Not much beats a cold and icy January day with toddlers and sugar and working in Ashlea’s kitchen. Her house is kind of like church. And this sentiment, the whole church thing, was never more true than this day. This random and cold January day.

I think I was drying a dish or putting a straw into a chocolate milk bottle, but around the corner I noticed a girl. A little, toe-headed girl with hot pink glasses who wore a tutu over her leggings. Her arms, outstretched, and her face, wearing the most concerned look. She walked closer and I heard her say, “Awe, awe, awe.”

I must admit, my first thought was she was scared of my wheelchair. I know Samara has a few sensory issues and I worked with kids with sensory issues and fear of my chair goes with the whole sensory thing, every once in a while. I wasn’t offended in the least, I just wanted to make sure to handle the situation correctly. As she approached, I stayed calm and assumed I was the adult in this situation. Oh how wrong I was. Samara was the adult. Samara was the voice to hear. She grabbed my shoulders, looked me straight in the eyes, and bore the most empathetic and intuitive expression I have ever seen, and said, “Oh my, oh my, oh my.”

Samara fell into my arms and hugged me. Then, she asked me if she could sit in my lap. And then, she asked me every question in the history of questions about paralysis. I usually tell kids about this wire that connects from the brain down the back and this wire tells the body what to do and mine is broken and now my legs don’t get the messages and usually that’s enough. But, Samara, she wanted to know why my wire was broken. Why did ‘your wire have to break.’ I couldn’t answer her, only tell her that wires just break. She jumped off my lap and went back to twirling in her tutu with her friends.

A little while later, I heard some noises in the other room. I went in to check and noticed two toddler boys smashing trucks. I tried to explain the virtue and fun in just moving the trucks across the rug, without the crash scene, and they weren’t having it. They ended up proving me wrong. Smashing trucks is way more fun than just driving them in a single file line. Ashlea came in to the room to see what we were doing and to tell us it was time to open the gifts. She and I gathered the two truck smashing toddlers and started to head out of the room. And then, Samara came through the living room door. Again, her arms were out-stretched. Only this time, she walked right into me, threw her arms around my neck, and said, “I just love you so much. I love you. I just love you.”

Ashlea and I metled right then and there. Literally, melted. Ashlea fell forward and put her hand on the back of my head and I fell foward and hugged Samara. The three of us stayed just like this for quite a bit before we could catch our breath. Ashlea and I kept trying to explain our actions to each other, but then realized we were both just overwhelmed and brought to our knees by a child and her ability to offer such unconditional love.

You see, I can’t tell you Samara’s story because it isn’t fair. It is her story. When she is older in age, than she is now, she may tell you if she chooses. Notice, I didn’t say wiser, because her wisdom far outweighs adult wisdom. Regardless of her wisdom, her story is her story and six or twenty-six, I respect her and her story. I assure you, however, that Samara has reason to shut down. Samara has reason to give up. Samara has reason to be afraid of love and curiosity and genuineness. Samara could close her heart, but she keeps it open. And not only is her heart open, but she shares it with everyone she knows.

Not long after this moment, Samara asked about each of my broken bones. She wanted to feel my broken collar bone. She felt the broken bone and then hugged my neck one more time. She didn’t say a word this time. Just hugged me.

Samara sees and she feels. She knows when someone is broken and instead of judging her she tells her she loves her. She isn’t afraid of darkness. Samara grabs darkness by the neck and embraces it and continues to try to bring light to the darkness. When she left, she walked over to me, one more time, hugged me, and said, “Please remember I love you. I just really love you.”

This is it. When we are broken, when we see our fellow friends broken, we don’t say, “You are broken and need fixing.” No, instead, we say, “I see and feel your brokenness and I love you, I just really love you.”

Thank you, Samara. Thank you for bringing me back. 



Me, trying to get Samara's baby brother to eat quinoa and cranberry baby food. I think wisdom runs in the family. I believe he is thinking, "I will not eat that stuff from this crazy lady." 



12 comments:

  1. There's a song by a Cincinnati band, Over the Rhine. Title "All My Favorite People Are Broken." I heard about it from artist Ursula Roma, if you know her. (She's definitely worth knowing!) Anyway, here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ea9uy6Mngk.

    I love entering your world through your words. You are quite the writer and life interpreter. I hope things are going well for you.

    I'm a friend of your mother's, no longer much in touch since she left St John's UU Church. I'm glad she shared your blog with me. I wish you all that's good.

    Marty Harrington

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    1. Thank you for this comment, Marty. I remember your name and your friendship with my mom. I love Over the Rhine. I forgot about this song. Thank you ever so much for sharing this with me. It is just so beautiful. And so perfect. Thank you.

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  2. Aren't little people the best? My grandchildren can always change my mood from bad to good.

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    1. The very, very best ever in the whole world. xo

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  3. Hi Sarah, I've been reading your blog since Kelle Hampton referred to you in one of her blog posts. Please remember that even in your tough days you are still inspiring others. :)

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  4. Another beautifully insightful post! I've missed you, and in fact love your words so much I found myself wondering where you'd gone. Know that your insightfulness and your ability to express that insightfulness is truly meaningful to others.

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    1. You know, to a person who has struggled with depression and all the things, 'wondering where you'd gone' is about the best thing I can read. It's about the best thing anyone, at all, suffering or not, can hear. Thank you for teaching me this, Lisa. Just, thank you. xo

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  5. You remain my most cherished teacher, Sarah! I understand your going quiet. Take whatever you need. No one knows better than you, what you need. I am so impressed with the lessons that you not only "get", but that you share so unselfishly with the rest of your followers (yes, you are a leader!). I learn from you as one would, at the knee of a revered elder. When you speak, I listen, and I take it in with my breath. In.....thank you dearest one.

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    1. YOU are a teacher, Elly. You are a teacher. Thank you.

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  6. I love this little Samara and believe many people in the world today could learn an important lesson from her. Thanks for sharing and bringing tears to my eyes and a smile to my face!

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    1. Oh, Samara. I will share with you sometime at Unwind over olives and drinks. Thanks, Jos. You are the best. xo

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Thank you for commenting. I appreciate all of your words.