You’ve Got a Friend In Me

Posted by Danny

There have been times this past year that I’ve said I have ten wives.  Before Lisa died, she said, “I don’t worry about our children.  We have surrounded ourselves with really good people who will care for them and help you raise them.”  She was right.  

I find that it’s usually easier to talk to women about Lisa.  I can walk into Panera and, without looking, find one of her girlfriends or acquaintances who will immediately bring up her name.  Some people might think that would be difficult.  It’s actually nice.  The more I become comfortable talking about Lisa and the different place she has in my heart and in our lives, the faster I heal.

Surprising to some might be the way that my buddies have also supported me through this pile of manure.  They reminisce with me about the times we had together. Some have cried with me.  I’ve receive a lot of manly bear hugs and pats on the back.  I think these friends of mine are extraordinary.  

Unfortunately, I believe that too many men fit the stereotype – less open and less able to deal with difficult emotional issues.

How often do men take the time to build the kinds of relationships that allow for that sort of intimate connection outside of their marriage?  How often do men talk about their fears or really, I mean really, talk about their faith?  I don’t mean standing up in front a men’s bible study with bobbing heads agreeing with the leader’s suggestions.  I mean wrestling with our deepest doubts.  I mean sharing our biggest, most outlandish dreams that may likely never come true.  There’s a vulnerability in that – perhaps a perceived weakness.  We should already know what we’re doing with our lives.  We should already know what we believe.  Many of us don’t. 

What’s behind our inability to talk to each other and support each other? 

Jesse and I were moderately close before Lisa died.  We cracked on one another and often teamed up at family events, playing off of each other at the expense of Lisa, a parent or another unwitting family member.  But when he moved in and was faced with returning home some nights to find me sitting on the couch in a really dark place, it was impossible for him to go grab a couple of Oreos and turn on SportsCenter.  He was faced with the unraveling of a brother.  And I have to hand it to him, he didn’t back away.  He listened and listened and listened.  He heard the same stories time and time again.  He asked questions and pushed.  He held me accountable at times.  He worked hard at empathy, playing on past times in his life when he’d hit a hard spell.

I think grief makes it alright for two muscular, hairy, tough guys (like us) to shed a tear in front of each other.  It gives us a pass to utter phrases that are unfamiliar to our vernacular. Phrases like –

I feel…

It was tough when…

I question…

I don’t believe…

Do you believe?

I’m scared…

It’s a deep connection that I’m thankful for. 

When I think about this incredibly sad situation, I often work to find some silver in the lining.  Frankly, there isn’t a lot.  However, my deepened friendships with Jesse and Brad and Eric and Steve and Jon and Jeff and many others, both male and female, shine bright through the dark cloud.  And that lining is what is leading me to the other side.  I hope I can pay that forward in the months and years to come.

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14 Comments

  1. meg

     /  February 23, 2011

    that’s not a halo over Jesse’s head is it?

    i have enjoyed your blog so much.
    glad to know you two aren’t starting to look like each other.

    and what a nice home in the background of your blog!!
    can’t see the walkway, but i think it reaches the driveway, doesn’t it?

    meg

    Reply
  2. Mom

     /  February 23, 2011

    I only wish men would be able to do this. I think it keeps down heart attacks. We teach our boys not to feel nor talk about deep things. And they don’t until they absolutely have not choice. Keep on preachin’ brother. Our men need to hear this from another man. Thank heavens for Jessie and Brad and all the other wonderful men who have been there for you.

    Reply
  3. Patty

     /  February 23, 2011

    Thank you for putting your WHOLE heart into these posts. I think it takes tremendous courage (for men and women) to be deeply, vulnerably seen. (It is interesting that the word courage comes from the Latin COR — meaning heart.)
    Thank you for mustering the courage daily to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart — pain and all.
    We’re all blessed when you show us that vulnerability is worth the risk — that there is comfort in connection to others.
    We all taste the truth through your example. When we can open our hearts wide, even in the starkest tragedy, we find the path to our soul.
    I’m grateful for you and your writing, for your courage, your heart and for giving us a glimpse of your enlightened love for Lisa.
    My prayers are for manageable grief and healing and that through your grief you are open to more love.
    p.s. You’re right — Uncle Jesse is a blessing.
    p.s.s. I miss Lisa.

    Reply
  4. elizabeth

     /  February 23, 2011

    Love the message and love the fact that, that picture is at our beach house, right?

    Reply
  5. A good message today! Yes we men are taught and told to be MEN! Buck it up soldier! Don’t show those emotions, not manly. I have gone to a mens Bible study where we went over a study about being real men. Mens Fraternity. I highly recommend it! It really helps us men to see ourselves, how we have been “trained” and to break those stereotypes and be REAL with each other and our wives and children and parents. Sounds like you are on that road!

    Reply
  6. Patty Thomson

     /  February 23, 2011

    Well said. Crying has always been “feminine”–whatever that means. I always was a little more “turned on” when Wayne and I would be watching a movie and I would hear him sniff, or see a tear run down his cheek”. Men need to be tough at times, to take charge and be the leader, but I am glad that he also gives them a softer side. A man who can cry or show his caring side is truly being a man that God intended him to be. Your girls need to know that men have feelings. they need to be learning from you just what kind of man they want in their lives. I chose a man much like my Daddy and after 53 years, am still glad. I am proud of you for showing all of us how important honesty is in our lives. Even in grief, when we are very vunerable, God helps us through. How glad I am that God put you in my life many years ago. How glad I am that you Daddy told me I must read this. what a blessing you have been to me in my old age. What a blessing you are to men all around you by showing that the true meaning of “to MAN UP” many times means to not be afraid to show your true feelings. And I thank God for Jesse. God takes care of us in so many different ways!! Love you ALL

    Reply
  7. Aunt Susan

     /  February 23, 2011

    Jesse, how did you learn to photo shop that halo?

    no really both of you have your own forms of halos in the help you have been giving to each other and to others through this blog, it has meant a lot to me.
    the girls will be stronger women because of both of you,

    Reply
  8. wilson

     /  February 23, 2011

    hey danny….

    great message today…i know i am one of those “men” that never opened up, but am glad to say that all bets are off now…i love talking about difficult stuff….and i love you!

    Reply

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