Jul 142014
 

Stop the World

Last month, I was in a room with four hundred women, and we were laughing and crying and just BEING together. Halfway through our time together, a woman stood up and said, “Glennon, what would you say to help people understand the importance of being there for a friend who has lost a child? We lost our daughter, Ansley, seven years ago and most of our friends and family have just fallen away. Now on her birthday and Angel Day- I might receive a card or two. It’s just not enough. Our baby is gone and we need the people who knew her to talk to us about her, but they don’t. Everyone we loved is just silent about it. It makes me feel like Ansley is forgotten. It feels like the world is pretending she never existed.”

Jennifer

I just looked at her for a long moment. The room was completely silent. It was clear to everyone that this woman had single-handedly escorted the four hundred of us into the most important moment of the evening.

I finally said, “What is your name?”

She said, “Jessica.”

I said, “Jessica- you tell us. What would YOU tell people to do?”

And she said, “SHOW UP. Show up right away and then keep showing up. Don’t worry about saying the right thing, there is no right thing. Just say SOMETHING. Just tell us you haven’t forgotten. And say their name. It’s like people are afraid to remind me of her- as if I’m not already thinking about her every moment of every day. Everyone avoids her name- but we still need to hear their names spoken by people who loved them.”

I thanked Ansley’s mama for saying what we all needed to hear. For telling us that when it comes to tragedy- what a friend does is pull together all her brave and run towards the heartbreak and mightily resist the urge to try to fix it and instead just sit in it and soak up a little bit of the love and pain.

And then she says her name. Often. Because your friend is still Ansley’s mama, as certainly and surely and eternally and solidly as you are the mama of your babies. That’s who she STILL IS. Somehow now more than ever. She doesn’t know herself any other way and she doesn’t want to. And so when you don’t acknowledge that part of her, it’s like you’re not even there with her. She needs you to be there with her. With Ansley’s grieving mama.

I said, “Jessica. I don’t know what to say. But listen, I’ll tell you one thing. Ansley’s Angel Day is not going to pass silently this year. I know some people who would love nothing more than to stop and remember Ansley with you. They are the Monkees. You tell me Ansley’s date and then you visit us on her day. “

And Jessica cried and we all cried together – all four hundred of us – for the loss of a baby girl and the pain of a mother and the soothing balm of women who rush toward each other and sit and cry with each other and just give up on saying too many words at all.

Today is Ansley’s Angel Day- July 14. I imagine that Jessica will wake up this morning and look out her window and wonder how in the world it is that the world can keep spinning on the day that her own world died.

ansley-2

ansley-birthday

 

grave

I would like for us to stop the world for a moment today to remember Ansley, to honor Jessica, and to hold space for all of our sisters’ great loss and pain and love. Let us do this in two ways:

  1. Please leave a comment here for Jessica. She will be reading today. Let us show her we cared enough to STOP today and say Ansley’s name. Let us tell her that she is not the only one who is feeling the width and depth today of the loss of Ansley. Also, in your comment- tell Jessica where you’re from. It makes the love feel more real when you can see that it’s covering the globe.
  2. Then please, in honor of Ansley and Jessica- call to mind a friend who has suffered a great loss and then reach out to her. If you can’t call her, email her. If you can’t email her, text her. Don’t let your lack of time or the perfect thing to say stop you. Just do it. Stop the world for a moment in honor of her. That’s what we do when we pause in the middle of a busy day to reach out to someone who is hurting. We say “to me, you are worth stopping the world for.”

MS-MD has donated $700 to the Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood Program in honor of Precious Ansley (who would have been a nine year old girl today) and in honor of her Warrior Mama, Jessica, and in honor of all of you who have lost your babies. I am stopping my world today to tell you that I have no perfect words. I am just here, and I am so very, very sorry.

Love,
G and TWMF



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Jul 132014
 

beating-caged-heart

For Ro

I know that it feels like the world has made a silent request that you remain silent.

I sense it, too. It’s a chilly breeze through my mind that carries the message: shhhhhh.

Since we were little girls the world’s been whispering: shhhhh. Don’t disturb the universe. You cannot speak of it because if you did everyone might notice that you are a little angry and then they will be angry because the underneath rule is:  you are not allowed to be angry.  So there is no point in noticing much, really. Don’t look at that, little one- look over here at Barbie. Don’t think, don’t speak, don’t raise that eyebrow – just go brush your hair. There you go. That’s what you do with that pretty little head.

Your brother might be a strong leader, but you are bossy. Your brother might have the heart of a poet,  but you are moody, brooding. Your brother might be a critical thinker –  but you are just negative, honey, and a little ungrateful. Still Waters Run Deep if you’re a boy, but if you’re a girl Only Bubbly Water is Loved. So smile. The world loves a happy girl.

It’s enough to make a girl wonder if Smile Quietly was in the contract she signed when she agreed to be human. And that question will lead her to remember that she never signed any such contract. That she never made any promises at all. To anyone. Certainly not to the whispering, hushing world.

Every girl must decide whether to obey the shhhhh of the whispering world or the SPEAK of her own beating, caged heart.

One day, she will decide to speak. And then she will speak and speak just to hear the stunning  sound of herself SPEAKING. Like skipping a stone, she will speak just to hear herself interrupt her own silence. Just to break the smooth surface of the water. Just to watch the ripples. And soon the sound of her own beautiful, strong, shaking voice will drown out the shhhhh of the whispering world completely.
Almost completely.

Still. Do it. Disturb the Universe. It’s what you’re here for, Little Girl.

G



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Jul 102014
 

Pour

Excerpt from the New York Times Bestseller and Books for a Better Life’s Best Relationship Book of 2013- CARRY ON, WARRIOR

There was a couple who’d been married for twelve years. The first two years were good, happy even . . . but then the kids came and work got hard and money got tight and the shine wore off of each of them. She used to see strong and silent but now she saw cold and distant. He used to see passionate and loving, but now he saw dramatic and meddling. They allowed themselves to become annoyed with each other. And so they stopped being careful. They stopped taking care of each other because they each decided they needed to look out for themselves.

And the distances between them grew longer and deeper until it felt impossible to touch even when they were in the same room. And one day she said to her girlfriend. . . I just don’t love him anymore. And it felt terrifying and exciting to say. And he said to his buddy . . . I don’t know if I ever loved her. And their friends said what about counseling but it all seemed tangled up too tight to try to unwind.

She got home from work one evening and fed the kids and put them to bed and she was tired to the bone. And he was late again. Late again. And even though he was late and the house was a mess, she knew that he would walk in the door, pour his glass of wine, and sit down at the kitchen table and relax. He’d sit and relax. She couldn’t even remember what relaxing felt like. She was always either going like hell or sleeping. Somebody had to keep the family running.

She stared at his bottle of wine on the counter. Then her eyes wandered over to their wedding photo on the wall. Clueless, she thought. We were cluelessBut happy. Look at us. We were happy. We were hopeful.

God, please help us, she said silently.

Then she walked over to the counter and poured a glass of wine for him. She put it next to his book on the kitchen table, the place he loved to sit and relax, and she went upstairs to sleep.

He tiptoed into the house fifteen minutes later. He knew he’d missed the kids’ bedtime again, he knew his wife would be angry againand he prepared himself for her steely silence. He hung up his coat and walked into the kitchen. He saw his glass of wine, and his book, and his chair pulled out for him. He stood and stared for a moment, trying to understand.

It felt like she was speaking directly to him for the first time in a long, long while.

He sat down and drank his wine. But instead of reading, he thought about her. He thought about how hard she worked, how early she woke to get the kids to school and herself to the office. He felt grateful. He finished his wine and then walked over to the coffee maker. He filled it up and set the automatic timer. 5:30 am. It would be ready when she came downstairs. He placed her favorite mug on the counter. And then he walked upstairs and quietly slipped into bed next to her.

The next morning she woke up and stumbled downstairs, exhausted, to the kitchen. She stopped when she heard the coffee maker brewing and stared at it for a few moments, trying to understand.

It felt like he was speaking directly to her for the first time in a very, very long while.

She felt grateful.

That evening, she stayed up until he got home. And she allowed her arm to brush his as they prepared dinner together. And after the kids went to bed and they assumed their TV viewing positions on the couch . . . he reached out for her hand. It was hard, but he did it.

And things started to unwind. A little teeny bit.

Look. I know it’s hard. It’s all so damn hard and confusing and complicated and things get wound up so tight you can’t even find the ends sometimes.

All I’m saying is that somebody’s got to pour that first glass of wine.

Because love is not something for which to search or wait or hope or dream. It’s simply something to do.



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest