There’s a story I don’t share much. I allude to its content from time to time, but I don’t really go into detail. I don’t go into detail for several reasons such as:
1) Its content is not something by which I want to be defined.
2) After all this time, I try to tell a new story.
3) If I don’t discuss it, it won’t hurt as much.
However, I realize after eight years the subject does define me, to a point. It allows me to not only tell a new story, but to change my entire value system. And, while time does heal pain, the void is never really filled so it doesn’t really matter if I talk about it or not.
Tomorrow marks the eighth year I have lived without my only sibling. A young man with a seven-month old son left the world at the age of 27, suddenly without much warning. The one person I was to tease throughout my entire life. The one with whom I was to discuss matters regarding our parents’ health. The one I would leave my child to if something terrible happened to me first. In just one day I went from being someone’s sister to being an only child. It crippled me emotionally for nearly half a decade.
The details of the ‘old’ story and how this happened are not really necessary here. What does matter, however, is how life’s events are meant to teach us valuable life-altering lessons.
1) Relationships and family are more important than work.
2) Saving for a rainy day is important.
3) When someone is in need, time is of the essence.
You see, I didn’t get on a plane from Connecticut to Missouri fast enough. I didn’t do it because I was really busy with work…I didn’t have a dime in my savings account…I thought it was a simple stomach ache and that was not important enough for me to fly clear across the country. Between the time I got the “You need to come home” call and the time I actually arrived, my brother had slipped into a place from where he would never come back. I never got to say goodbye. And that haunted me for many, many years.
It also changed me. It changed me in so many ways that I wish I could go back to those people who angered me with their “There is a gift in this tragedy” statement. I would say to them “You were right”. Because, folks, why else must we endure such pain if not for growth?
So, how did this change me? How did I grow?
Nobody’s work is more important than family. I live by this in my job now and promote this value to those I supervise and with whom I work. I also remind my superiors from time to time that family is a priority for me. I’ve quit ‘dream jobs’ to be with my family. It isn’t hard to make decisions when you live your values.
Buying useless crap takes valuable resources away from you. When I lived in New England, I lived in a house I really could not afford and bought items for this house I really, really, really could not afford. So, when I got the call my first thought was “Where the hell am I going to get $900 to fly to Missouri?“. Eight years later, I can tell you with all truth and honesty: I think of that moment whenever I am about to buy something major that would deplete my savings account. It has stopped me many times from buying something I do not need.
Don’t ignore your intuition. When a friend is in need, today is the day to pick up the phone. Today is the day to stop what you are doing and write that note. Not tomorrow, not next week, and certainly not ‘not ever’. I knew something was wrong on that Friday. I should have called home that day. Instead, I waited nearly 36 hours for my father to call me…and another 12 hours to arrive at the hospital. I think Facebook is a wonderful place to get information. It is not a wonderful place to show someone how much you care.
What does this have to do with simplicity?
I don’t know. Maybe nothing. Except that this event, along with a few others, led me to my decision to stop working so much, quit buying so much, and take the time to sit on a blanket in the yard watching a storm roll in last night with my son instead of washing dishes.
Every one of my ‘simplicity’ heroes has a similar story. An ‘Ah-Ha’ moment, if you will. What’s your old story and how did it help create a new story? Are you a ‘simplicity-minded’ soul and if so, how did you arrive here? Are you in the midst of your own painful life event that has given you pause? I’d love to hear from you.
PS…I’m giving my dear friend and editor time off to deal with her own set of priorities and family issues. If the blog is a complete grammatical mess – I take full responsibility.
12 thoughts on “Another Matter of the Heart”
I am new to your blog but I loved your story. In fact, it made me cry. I have been feeling the need for simplicity in my life for some time now and am motivated by your “stop buying useless crap” message. I worry about not having enough money to take advantage of those family/friend moments that require a plane fare and hotel stay – and this will remind me to think twice before cluttering up my life with useless junk. Not only don’t I need it, but I will have more to save for things that matter.
It is so nice to hear from you and I’m glad you enjoyed today’s post. Beyond food, clothing, shelter, and a massage or two 🙂 – it’s all crap :).
Denise, your courage in sharing your pain and–most importantly–your growth through your pain is inspiring. Thank you. I agree with you on so many levels in this post!
P.S. No grammar messes here. 🙂 I think you’ve absorbed any wisdom I had to offer!
Thank you, Kathryn. I appreciate all your support and the way you’ve helped form me into a studious writer.
I cried all the way through it also. Your writing is totally beautiful…
Thank you. I do really believe that you have to see the good in something like this, but it does take time to realize that there is, indeed, something good in it.
I am so sorry you carried that pain for so long. I do think your message is very pertinent to simplicity. You put the priorities of life out there along with what will steal them from us.
Isn’t that the truth, Lois? When one can’t prioritize what is really important, that’s exactly what happens…the truly valuable things in our life are stolen from us.
You never fail to amaze and inspire me. Thank you for sharing your story.
Ditto, Chica! I hope to have the patience you possess someday. 🙂
Denise you are truely an amazing young woman, I’m so blessed to have you, Michael and Poot as not only neighbors but friends. Your story is so heartfelt and we can learn much about pain and moving on that there is hope for a great new tommorow. Love the peace that surrounds you it just washes over a person. Thanks for letting me in your life.
Thank you, LaVerne. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you both as well! And the Poot just loves coming next door to play.
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