I was overwhelmed this past week by the people who showed up to support me at my first book signing. This signing was not necessarily about selling books but more about celebrating the meaning of my story and the people in my life who encouraged me to tell it. Friends from elementary school, high school, college and my adult years came to get a signed copy or buy a second book to gift to someone else. People showed up for me simply to say “thank you” and to embrace me in the best hugs. For a couple of friends it had been 30 years – somehow those were the tightest hugs. The words “I love you” were spoken many times but never with a casual, surface meaning. There are many people in my life who I truly love, and I know wholeheartedly that feeling is honestly reciprocated. Rarely in my life have I ever felt so loved. By then end of the night, alone in my hotel room, I had the overwhelming urge to cry. My emotions were high, my cup was overflowing, I had been loved so deeply.
In my research for this book I discovered that my mother’s closest friend had been her journal. She admitted that these blank pages had been the one she turned to with her innermost thoughts, her daily struggles and her highest joys. My mother had numerous people in her life and she touched the lives of so many, but I fear she had no one with whom she felt comfortable being vulnerable. She was afraid of putting down her shield and appearing weak. She was a trauma survivor who suffered from various illnesses, had a difficult daughter and spent at least 20 years of her life fearing that she would die much sooner than she wanted. She wrote in her journal and she cried out to a God who heard her every word, but she rarely sat down with another woman and spoke of these things in an intimate dialogue. Sadly, I believe she simply didn’t know how. She had learned early on NOT to trust and NOT to talk about difficult things. It saddens me to think that she may have never experienced the deep love that I have felt throughout the writing of our story.
1 Peter 4:8-10 reads, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” I have never seen myself as a surface friend but this book had opened a new door and given me an opportunity to love deeply and to use my gifts to serve others. Almost daily friends and strangers are reaching out to tell me what my story has meant to them. People are sharing their very personal journeys with me. On occasion my story has prompted some to tell their story for the first time. This is what my mother wanted. This is exactly what I wanted. I want to honor each person with a genuine response and hopefully further conversation down the road. Every time I sell a book I ask for feedback. Please reach out and tell me what you thought, how it moved you and how we can can continue to process. I may have a gift for writing and storytelling but I feel I also have the gift of hospitality and making people feel comfortable and welcome. My vulnerability makes me accessible and I hope people take advantage of that. If you reach out, I will respond and I will give you the time and attention you deserve. Please don’t ever feel that the book is too personal to discuss. View it as an opportunity to love and be loved deeply.