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Sweet Friend, you give me Strength

December 4, 2012

I have to go back to work on Monday.

I think I’ve cried about this everyday for the past two weeks. I look at my son and just completely fall apart. 12 weeks goes by really fast. 12 weeks has slipped right through my fingers. 12 weeks just isn’t enough time with this new little person who is, without shame, my favorite little person in the entire world.

I’ve realized I’m not going to be one of those women who delights in her career. I’m not going to be one of those women who finds her greatest fulfillment in her professional role. I’m going to be one of those women who will, one day, be a full-time stay-at-home-mom. I’m one of those women who finds her joy in new recipes and a clean house and the satisfaction of a folded laundry pile. I’m one of those women who just wants to be home with her little boy.

But life doesn’t always work out in all the perfect ways we’d like. For now, my life brings me back to work on Monday.

And I’ve cried about it everyday for two weeks.

But today I got an email.

I got an email from a teenager I formerly worked with who is celebrating her one year of sobriety and upcoming graduation from a rehabilitation high school. I got an email from a teenager telling me all about her success over the past four years, telling me how she accomplished things she never thought she could, and telling me how she still carries around a poem I gave her nearly four years ago. She wanted to write to thank me for the encouragement, the support, and the poem that gave her courage on an almost daily basis.

Well, my dear sweet young friend, the thanks goes entirely to you.

Thank you for your strength. Thank you for your belief in yourself. Thank you for the courage to choose, on a daily and hourly basis, the life you always wanted for yourself. Thank you for all of your hard work. Thank you for holding onto your faith and hope that things can be different, and seeking the treatment to make them so. Thank you for your testament that young women – beautiful, confident, powerful young women – can make their own destinies despite the odds against them. Thank you for proving there truly is beauty in the breakdown.

And thank you for writing to me.

You give me energy to go back to the job. You remind me that there is still good work to be done. You let me know that, although my son is my greatest priority, there are still other lives worth pouring into. I’m so honored I had any impact on yours.

Congratulations on all you’ve accomplished, dear one. May each day provide you the grace to move forward, and the promise of healthy change. May we both draw strength from each other as the next chapter of our journeys await.

“The Journey”

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice —

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do —

determined to save

the only life you could save.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(Dream Work)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 4, 2012 12:31 pm

    This one brought tears, dear Lauren; when I got to the letter from your friend, I wept. Because that is such a good God gift exactly when you needed it, a reminder that there is good life to be had while and where you work. I know this is tough. But. You will be fine, and he will be fine. You’ll figure out how to do this and you will do all your ‘jobs’ wonderfully well. A little crazy-making, I am sure. But all shall be well.

    • December 4, 2012 2:29 pm

      Thank you so much for that encouragement, Diana! I need to keep hearing that it will be okay – the more I hear it, the more it will sink in (hopefully). This email came at the exact right time today. My sweet friend had no idea that she was blessing me in such a huge way today. I am so grateful, both for her personal success and that she took the time to write.

  2. lissa permalink
    December 6, 2012 2:41 pm

    AMAZING, Lauren. You are the best! I miss teaching DEARLY. If I had been teaching when I had my baby, I may not have been able to let working go – it’s a pretty special thing to be called to teach. Like every other “first” with your son, the first day apart will probably be challenging and a little bit scary, because it’s the unknown. And then – like all other things – you’ll find your rhythm. I’ll be thinking of you on Monday and sending you vibes of strength. 🙂

  3. December 6, 2012 4:02 pm

    I love reading about the deep love you have for your baby. God knows and loves this heart you have for your little one and will be your strength. Your post is refreshing!

  4. January 1, 2013 10:16 pm

    Hi Lauren…

    Oh goodness I hope this isn’t completely awkward and inappropriate. (I also hope I’m not mistaken)…I believe you are my big sister’s good friend. I actually found this link to your blog through a link on Hillary Drew’s blog (she was a good friend of mine from HS Theater). I used my skills of deduction to decide you are most likely the same Lauren who is my sister Jen’s friend.

    I wasn’t going to say anything, since it’s strange how I came across you, but then I saw the poem you included here and I felt like it was a calling to comment. I collect words and quotes–like you I started my new blog just last week just to write and write alone. I previously had a blogspot blog for years where I let myself get too involved with caring about followers and comments. All this to say, I discovered that poem, and Mary Oliver’s many amazing words in general, last summer and they’ve carried me through ever since. I started my new writing blog based on that poem alone and the strength I hope it will give me as I move to Boston.

    If you are “that” Lauren I want to thank you in advance for the kindness you’ve extended to me via Jen and for the compassion I feel from your blog. I wish you strength as you journey through 2013. I’d love to get coffee sometime after I move to Boston (which is this week!)

    (Oh and if you aren’t the right Lauren, I apologize, and still say you are an incredible writer and a woman full of light and compassion.)

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