Never Shut Yourself Off
Never Shut Yourself Off
Back when I was a freshman in high school, I lived with a family far away from our new home. Long story, but it wasn’t because of anything I had done wrong. The truth is that my parents didn’t want to be bothered with raising children. Well, this family I ended up amazingly living with (strangers to my parents) turned out to be these wonderful human beings. They made such a positive impact on my life. Even as an adult, up until their deaths, this family was a buoy when life got so sad and confusing. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt they would have adopted me, especially if they had known nobody did.
The family shared, from their perspective, how they saw me as a hard-to-read teenager. They said my mother had bought me such beautiful clothes, but I had very few personal belongings. And what little I had for being from a rich family I held close to me, as if I feared someone might take them away.
The woman I called “mother of affection” said she had asked me to show her where I had lived before our family moved down to Southern CA. At first, I wouldn’t, but when I finally did, I still remember what I was feeling at that time, but couldn’t put into words. The home represented a mansion of emptiness to me compared to what this family had given me in the short time I had spent living with them. For some reason, I felt ashamed. This family said I was very respectful when I’d talk about my parents and would say how much they must have loved me, while at the same time, share stories about my upbringing that would even make outsiders wonder how anyone could define it as love. I would often say, “it hurts” with no modifier when I would describe my feelings about something that had nothing to do with my parents or family.
Shortly before one of the sisters who I had lived from that loving family back in high school passed away on 12/29/2008 from an aggressive form of breast cancer, she sent me an e-mail in the middle of the night. For awhile there, it was too painful to read her poignant letter. But no matter how gravely ill she was towards the end of her life, my friend wanted me to remember this always, “I celebrate that you have never shut yourself off from your heart. That’s a bit of a miracle, a bit of Grace.”
When I became a part of her family is the first time I felt truly loved. I am thinking about you today my friend, not with sadness and regrets, but rather with fondness for the many happy memories.