Some Things Need to be Said.

My hands are shaking. I want to write these things so terribly bad that I can’t wait. There are two people who have shaped me more than any others over the years. Two women, to be exact. The first one celebrates a birthday tomorrow, although her exact age is yet to be confirmed. I wrote a little snippet for her not too long ago and planned to share it on Mother’s Day but today seemed a better day in light of her being gone away on a vacation of sorts and likely in need of some love from home:

“I wanted to write this down. I needed to write this down before selfishness and pride overcame me once again. The trouble with moments like that are they become walls between that which we truly feel and that which we depict outwardly. Some things need to be said. Some things need to be heard.

I don’t know how else to say this truth except that my mother is truly the toughest person I know. The phrase, tough as nails, seems to fit best. You simply cannot pull the wool over her eyes and if by chance you happen to and she discovers as such, there will be hell to pay. My ability to bluntly cast off telephone solicitors and the like comes from her. Listening to her dictate phone conversations with our mobile phone company is like watching some brilliant artist paint a masterpiece. She knows what she wants and goes after what she wants, leaving any observers in awe of the frankness. Chalk it up to her British roots or type A personality but whatever the case, the woman can hold her own like nobody else I know. I think perhaps she’d tell you that bluntness is not so admirable a trait and as the lone recipient of this gene, maybe I should agree. But I don’t. In fact, I think it’s our finest trait. I truly believe that the ability to be honest and true, no matter the feelings involved is one which more people ought to have. We’ve gotten in to more trouble with our mouths than we’d care to admit and sometimes, backtracking and asking forgiveness is a must. We share a home with people who know how to speak with utmost grace; we just speak our minds. But she taught me to hold my own and walk with head held high.

I don’t say these things enough but some things need to be said. More importantly, some things need to be heard.”

Happy birthday to my beautiful mother who has been handed many a tough deal yet has remained strong and unbreakable.

Now, need you ask who the second woman is? Yesterday I was with Jesse and some friends and my sister and her friend were coming over. Someone made a joke to the lone single guy that a single girl was coming and I laughed for a moment before my eyes turned cold and my skin went clammy. I mentally threw double edged daggers towards his nether regions as I cordially breathed one word: No. I wanted to tell him if he looked at her wrong, I’d gouge his eyes out. I wanted to tell him that if he touched her, I’d kill him. I’m not a violent person. Truly, I’m not. Except when it comes to her. For my sister, I would take a life sentence for murdering the person who dared hurt her. I’ve made a pact with my boyfriend and my brother that when her suitors come-a-calling, they will be tested. If they don’t walk on water, they can just turn around and forget it. Because we’re not just talking about our baby sister, we’re talking about possibly the most kind, most generous, most pure, soul that walks this earth. She is the joy of my life. Where my mother has taught me to be strong and bold, my sister has taught me to be selfless and loving (not to say that my mother is not also those things!). When I am awful to her, she crinkles up her nose and giggles that Mollie giggle and says she loves me. I grew up to the sound of her laughing as she fell off stools, up staircases, and over her own feet. She’s smart too. Not just because it comes naturally but because she works harder than anyone I know. I haven’t even mentioned her beauty yet or the powerhouse that she is on the court. Like I said, we don’t call her the golden child for nothing. She finished her final high school courses on Friday and as her graduation day approaches, I discover my hands shaking at the thought of her moving on to university where I can’t be there to protect her. I guess I want to let it be known that there is no one I love more; no one that I will protect more fiercely. My life for hers, everyday of the week and twice on Sunday. There is no limit to the lengths I will go to keep her safe from everything that seeks to harm her. I think God knew this family would need more sunshine than most; He knew I would need my Mollie.

The Lord has been so good to bless me with two women who have helped me become the person I am becoming. I’m tough because my mother taught me how to be, whether she meant to or not. Yet I am being made softer and more gentle because I am loved unconditionally by a girl who has no idea how special she is. I feel such pride when I tell people how my mother came here to Canada for the love of her life all those years ago. I think I could write a novel about that one day, if she’d tell me the whole story. I wanted to write today because I’ve been realizing lately all of the things I never say. I’ve never told her I’m proud of her. I’m proud of you, Mum. You’re tough as nails. I’ve never told my sister how proud I am of her. Oh sure, I’ve probably said it but those remarks usually follow some snide comment about how she’s the privileged Golden Child with significantly less boundaries and rules to abide by. She should know that one of my deepest convictions is that this world would be a better place if everyone had a sister like her. We would all be a lot happier. There would be more sunshine. I’m proud of her, too. I would do anything for her.

The day is getting away from me but I am happy to have written these things which I have always felt but never said aloud. I’m sorry to make you weepy on your birthday, Mum. And I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to say what should have been said long before today. Through thick and thin, come hell or high water, you and Mollie are the rocks that I cling to. I’d say we make a pretty good team.

thank you, Katy (http://www.picturemefoto.com), for this beautiful photo.

thank you, Katy (http://www.picturemefoto.com), for this beautiful photo.

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There isn’t anybody you couldn’t love.

My dear,

I love you, and you love me, we just don’t know it yet.

See, I’ve yet to hear of the hardships you face, and so I’ve yet to admire you for that. And you’ve yet to know of the pain and sorrow I’ve endured, thus you’ve yet to hold me in high regard for that.

I love you, and you love me, we just don’t know it yet.

There isn’t anybody you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.

Falsely yours,

Mary Lou Kownacki

I’ve had bits and pieces of that quote written down for years and found that extended version when I sought out the origins of the other parts. I can’t explain why but I find that these words touch me in both simple and entirely complex ways. There isn’t anybody you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story. Is that really true? I’ve no idea if I could love everybody whose story I hear, especially if they have left behind a trail of dead bodies or broken hearted people. But what about those non-serial-killer types of people who’ve led otherwise normal lives on the outside but have unimaginable stories to their name? The conclusion I’ve come to is that this idea is perhaps the key to loving people in the way that God has been challenging me. There are times when we want to be angry with someone or say cutting things and instead we must pause and ask ourselves, I wonder what was going on in that person’s life today? Which may of course cause us to think next, well, if it’s been anything like my day, they could probably use some grace. How beautiful would that be?

I don’t really want to go on a tangent about what our thought process could and should be in a situation but rather, write about the overwhelming love and appreciation I’ve been feeling for the human race as of late. Everywhere I go I seem to be made keenly aware of how absolutely wonderful people are. I was standing there, taking drink orders from a table at work not too long ago and I happened to catch one of the guys taking this huge bite of his meatball grinder sandwich. He looked so positively content and thrilled with life in that moment that I almost choked up right then and there. Again, I cannot explain it. I was just so happy that he was happy and, to be honest, really quite taken by his lovability. That’s right – he was lovable. Sounds kind of crazy to write as well and perhaps a lot a little creepy. The same thing happens when, at work, there are people eating solo. I’m filled with a sense of curiosity as to what led them to our restaurant that day, all by their lonesome. I bet the stories there could amount to something intensely complicated.

My favourite, absolute favourite, people to love are usually a lot like the person who inspired today’s post. It’s the person with the laughing eyes and foul mouth who has a back story that would make a grown man cringe. There’s a guy I know (who will, of course, remain nameless) who I used to be irritated by when I first met him. I looked at him as another directionless pothead who didn’t have a care in the world except for when his next smoke would be. I thought he was dispensable. This utter disinterest in his life and story carried on until one day he let me see inside of his soul. He told me his story. He told me how his family was humiliated by a church that claimed to love its members. He said he wanted to know in his heart that something as wonderful as God could be true but the past told him otherwise. When I looked hard, I saw not bloodshot eyes, but caring ones. There isn’t anybody you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.

I suppose the challenge for me is to let people tell me their story before I make my hasty judgments. Even harder is to be guarded against their story as told by another person. I was reminded today of how completely wrong I’ve been about people before. I let a selfish and immature person write the story of another. When I finally met the main character of said story, I found that she was not all of those horrible things they said she was but quite exquisitely kind and lovely, inside and out. I was so wrong. I wish I could tell her how sorry I am. The thing is, I want to see people as the soldiers they are for having come through the most difficult of upbringings. I want to see their disbelief in the things of God as being a product of heartbreak and hypocrisy. I want to love them as if I already know what has made them the way they are. Neil Gaiman wrote about the wide universe that is our brain. “Everybody has a secret world inside them. All of the people in the whole world. I mean, everybody. No matter how dull or boring they are on the outside, inside them they’ve all got unimagineable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid worlds. Not just one world – hundreds of them, maybe thousands.”

I mean, how beautiful is that? Our story is what makes us so innately lovable despite how unlovable we act. I hope these musings make sense. Do you ever start to make somebody into more a part of your thoughts than they should be? I think that’s what sparked this train of thought. Because I came to the realization that people are so infinitely interesting and it’s okay to think about them and where they came from. It’s okay to begin to love them for their story, or at least, what short chapters you’ve read, even if they or anybody else have no idea of your feelings.

In other news, I am currently the lady of the house. My dear mother has returned to her homeland for a few weeks. While she walks on cobblestone and waves a lace handkerchief at little lambs spotted across rolling green hills, I will be practicing my cooking skills and taking up the role of resident tidy-er and reminder-er. It’s a weighty task but I am ready. Last night’s dinner was cream cheese and farmer sausage pasta with brown rice and quinoa penne. Tonight we continued to indulge with some juicy pork roast, caesar salad, and cheese toast. Granted, I didn’t really do much to produce this but everybody has to start somewhere, right? This picture is for you, mama, that you might see and know that I am indeed keeping my promise to take care of the family. Though perhaps some exercise is in order after our last two meals, we are happy, we are healthy, and we miss you.

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Love is goodness.

I’ve been thinking a lot about love today. When it comes to a man and a woman loving each other, I can’t help but think 1 Corinthians is off the mark just slightly. Before anyone freaks out on me, remember I’m speaking purely of the romantic relationship between two people wherein the expectation is to love unconditionally. That’s the very essence of the love passage in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). But what if that man just doesn’t love the woman back? What if he takes and takes and takes and never gives anything back? What then? I just finished my second book of my summer break and the answer I couldn’t ignore in that book was that you should just turn around and walk away. Now some would say, if he isn’t giving anything back then that’s not love. And of course it’s not. In this case, love should have conditions. And the biggest one is that you should be able to look in someone’s face and respect what you see. If you can’t, then run. Run as fast as you can because there will most definitely be someone who lights you on fire with passion but has integrity; somebody who is passionate about more than just themselves.

I read this in that book and I won’t soon forget it:

“Sometimes you think you’ve found love, when it’s really just one of those objects that are shiny in a certain light – a trophy, say, or a ring, or a diamond even. Glass shards, maybe. You’ve got to be careful, you do. The shine can blind you. The edges can cut you in ways you never imagined. It is up to you to allow that or not. You are the protector of yourself.

The most basic and somehow forgettable thing is this: Love is not pain. Love is goodness.

And real love – it’s less shiny than simple, and solid. It’s the stuff of sunflower spirals and seashells, where there is beauty and mystery, but where there is logic, too. You do not need protection from it. It is not about lies that someone else tells you or that you tell yourself, but about the truth. Real love is clear. It’s as uncomplicated as that shell. It’s as timeless.

When you find it, if you find it, pick it up. For all the right reasons, pick it up and hold it close.”

– Deb Caletti (The Secret Life of Prince Charming)

The truth is, love is not hard. Love is not painful. Relationship can be hard, yes, but that is not reason enough to give up on the love. It’s when the love is hard and it hurts and leaves you empty that you turn around and get the hell out of there. Because when you think about it, if it hurts, it’s just not right. If it’s killing you to love someone, then it’s simply not the right love. If I have children someday, I’d want them to know that they should wait for love that is good. Love is a million other things but at its heart, love is goodness.

I know that everyone must be thinking, “really Olivia? The Secret Life of Prince Charming?” Laugh all you want, I’m fully aware that it doesn’t sound like the kind of insightful and inspiring Francine Rivers stuff I normally go for. You can never really tell what book or movie will remind you of how lucky you are though. And that’s just what I am. Every time I read a book where the women are broken and battered cynics, I’m reminded of just how wonderful it is to be ignorant to all the horror of breakups and betrayals. They say that in order to love and be loved, you need to know what wrong feels like. You need to have felt the sting of heartbreak otherwise you’ll never know how good you’ve got it. But I do, I do I know how abundantly blessed I’ve been to have met somebody who loves me so tenderly and deeply. I know what goodness feels like. I’ve been spurned a few times perhaps and maybe agonized over a love I couldn’t have to begin with but my trust has never been violated by a man. Somehow that works for me. It’s possible that I don’t know any better but it seems like the ability to love and to trust my boyfriend is stronger for having never been broken. It’s untainted by another person’s mistakes. And that’s just as beautiful as when a person has been broken and learns to start over. I don’t know what the future holds but I know that what I’ve been given is so simply uncomplicated and clear and good.

Now, besides reading and pondering the mystery that love is, I’ve been job hunting and soaking up the sunshine. This past week I may or may not have even set bread dough on the windowsill to rise. It’s not pie, I know, but bread dough is perhaps even more delightful. The book count is at two, like I said. I spent $20 at Chapters on FOUR books and another $20 at Value Village for FIVE more books. Life is good. The first was a classic Olivia book, entitled “The Sanctuary” by Beverly Lewis – my most cherished Amish book author. The second was a Deb Caletti novel which I absolutely loved. Two books in four days. Life is good, indeed.

I suppose I should add that I love what 1 Corinthians speaks too. In fact, it’s one of my favourite passages in the Bible. I’m reminded every day to love people unconditionally for the human being that they are. I’m being challenged to see them as the Creator of the universe sees them and love them for the treasure that they are. But when it comes to those people who love too much, who give too much, love should have a condition. When it comes to those takers who leave a trail of wounded soldiers in their passing, forget ‘em because love is goodness.