Letter from My 48th Year (Jan 10)
I rarely write about my sister; it’s too frustrating. Either the words aren’t nearly good enough or the writer isn’t good enough, but somehow I can never capture the immensity of what I feel for her. I will, however, in honor of her birthday today, tell my favorite Debbie Beete story.
Not sure who I heard this from but apparently toddler Debbie was displeased about something (possibly my awesomeness… but that’s just a guess) and decided a tantrum was the only way to express her feelings. As the rage swelled up in our heroine, she stomped into our bedroom to get a pillow, which she flung to the floor before then flinging herself on top of it to proceed with her tantrum. I love that idea that she made sure she had a soft place to land before she felt and expressed her worst.
Most of Saturday I was at my friend and colleague P’s funeral, which was both heartbreaking and beautiful. I had months before scheduled my birthday dinner to be that same evening, and I struggled with whether or not I should reschedule it. But I realized there could be no safer place to land on such a wrenching day than among several of my closest friends. And, indeed, when at the beginning of dinner, I said, “I may burst into tears at some point,” and everyone agreed it would quite reasonable if I did, I was grateful that I had a soft place to land, whether I ended up tipsy or tearful.
At his funeral, his brother said that P thought about his work colleagues as his family, and that he felt he could be completely himself at work. And while P was often generous and kind and funny and full of grace, he could also be insecure and lost and envious and messily human. Still, the idea that he could be totally himself with us leads me to believe that he also found with us a soft place to land.
So I wish that for my sister today on her birthday and everyday, that there’s always a pillow near at hand whether she needs to cry or rage or laugh, and especially at those times that she’s so caught up in her feelings, she’s not even sure what would be the appropriate response. That she is surrounded by people who are interested in knowing and being with all of her, not just the parts that are easy to bear (and to bare). And that she knows I love her more than donuts, even the donuts from the Amish bakery in Reading Terminal.