On December 23, 2003—five days after my 24th birthday, two days shy of Christmas and six days before my older brothers’ 26th birthday—my mother passed away quietly in our home after a long bought with cancer. She was my best friend, confidant and a real-life version of Martha Stewart. I was devasted, broken and silent. I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t even move. 2004 is still a blur to me.
What I didn’t realize then was that, in time, my wounds would heal. I would learn to smile again and maybe even look on this day and be at peace with it. Better still, my pain might help someone else get through theirs—and in the years following, it certainly proved to do so.
But what happens when it’s you that needs a shoulder to cry on? Sure, history has proven that you can weather the storm and recover, but being strong all the time is exhausting. At least I know it’s been for me. My girlfriends are great people with huge hearts, but sometimes I feel like life has been much kinder to them and they can’t really understand what I’m going through. I’ve always been the “big sister” with weighty advice and reflective suggestions, but now I needed someone to be that for me. What was I to do?
I decided to take a walk. I walked near a park, around my block and to my favorite coffee house close by. I didn’t go in, though. I sat on a bench outside and soon smelled the comforting aromas of freshly brewed coffee and warm baked goods. I started watching the people come and go around me and wondered where they were going. Who were they going home to? What kind of life did they live? Then it hit me—everyone has gone through something and has a story. Mine was no different and no more important. Sure, maybe I had more loss in my life, but my friends loved and cared about me enough to support me when I was having a rough time. Not everyone has that blessing.
Maybe instead of assuming the worst, take a chance and reach out to your friends and loved ones. Explain to them what you’re going through—they are your friends and family for a reason, after all. Call it a leap of faith, but I’ve found people can surprise you in the most incredible ways. If you’re still concerned, take your trusty dusty pen and write it down.
Next time you’re concerned that your friends may not understand, try one of these actions first:
- Take a walk to reflect on the many blessings in your life.
- Sit still and breathe deeply—sometimes slowing down is what you really need.
- Write it down—seeing the words on the page can be truly healing.
My father always tells us that there is wisdom in all things, and for everything under the sun, there is a time and a season. Everyone goes through hard times and needs a caring shoulder to cry on. Trust the people in your life. It makes all the difference!
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