Looking Up!

Bruce Julie Tux

It was a bit over a year ago when I told a close friend I was headed to Charlotte, NC, for a work meeting.  This friend suggested I contact a sorority sister of hers, “Danny, I think you’d really hit it off.”

I wasn’t resistant.  I’ve been out on a number of dates over the past five or so years and although I hadn’t found Miss Right, I’ve met some interesting women and had enjoyable conversations.  People are fascinating and mostly nice.

I wasn’t overly optimistic, but I certainly didn’t dread the date.  I could always use a new friend.  Besides, she lived two hours away.  This relationship could easily dissolve simply by staying close to the Wake County line.

What I didn’t expect was to be totally captivated by this incredible woman.  What I couldn’t imagine was that I would start a relationship with someone who would emotionally fill me up in a way I hadn’t been filled in a very long time.

My mom has prayed for this for seven years.  I guess I haven’t because I had my plate full with other pressing issues.  It seemed insurmountable to heal enough from my loss to ever be open to a relationship again.

But BAM – it hit me.  It hit me hard.

The past seven years have been tough.  Don’t get me wrong, my girls and I have had really, really good times together.  But there are roles that they can’t and should not have to fill in our family.  It’s simply not their responsibility to ensure my happiness.  I have to figure that out on my own.

I think I’ve done OK, but man, to share the emotional load, to open up, to laugh and cry with someone again – someone who really cares about me in a different way than my parents or my kids – it sort of rounds things out.

I had forgotten.  I had filled my huge void with busy – running myself ragged so I didn’t have to sit still long enough to in fact realize how lonely I had become.  My kids were moving forward.  My friends were moving on.  I was not.  I was simply running in place.  Stuck in the middle.

Now, I breathe again.  Not just short gasps.  No, because of Julie, I’m taking deep, thoughtful, life-filling breaths.  She is a beautiful, optimistic, capable, happy, ball of fire!  We fit.

Movement forward isn’t always easy nor steady, and I bring a lot of baggage to the table.  But I think, instead of pushing it aside, she’s going to help me carry it.  She seems to see things in me that I don’t even see in myself.

In my darkest days, I never imagined happy like this.  I can’t believable that I found it.

Bruce and Julie

 

Mundane to Marvelous

This week’s Sunday School lesson was on happiness.  We talked about a lot of things, but one piece of the happiness puzzle seems to be contentment – making the most of your circumstances.

I think I see that in my oldest kid.  On Friday she was headed home for spring break.  That afternoon we were driving to Fayetteville, NC, to see my parents.  I’m sure my daughter might rather spend this time with friends in Cancun sipping boat drinks at the swim up bar.  But she had to make a choice, and a summer trip to Africa won.  Her father does not pay for these extravagances, and her bank account is only so deep.

I got a text at 9:38 AM.

I’m at the airport.  I haven’t driven in months.  Let’s take my car to Fayetteville.  It’ll be fun!

I knew what that meant.  Her grandfather handed down his Mini Cooper to DJ last May.  It is the size of a large bathtub.  It is tight for two people.  But four?

We packed light and all climbed in.  Our playlist from Spotify was pumping out of the speakers and the convertible top was down.

By the time we hit Garner, ten minutes outside Raleigh, I felt as if I had been visited by Hurricane Hazel.  My cerebral cortex had dried out from the pounding wind whipping through the orifices in my head.  And yet, we laughed, smiled and sang our way to the big metropolis we fondly call Fayettenam.

mini cooper

As we sat around grandpa’s den, DJ began taking family videos.  Like her father, she finds humor in the mundane.

The more she encouraged, the stupider we acted.

On Sunday, we went to church.  I taught a class and at 11 met the girls to head to the sanctuary.

“Dad, I have an idea,” DJ shared.

Here is comes, I thought to myself.

“What if we skipped church,”

Coulda called that one

“Grab some coffee,”

Now you’re talking

“And go ride the Carousel at Pullen Park.”

Not surprisingly, the sisters approved.

“Why would we do that?” I asked.

“Why wouldn’t we?” she questioned.

carosel

So off we went, church clothes and all, to ride a gyrating meerkat.

At school in DC, she does the same thing.

Camp Seafarer in the summer?  She’s cookin’ stuff up!

She doesn’t find happiness, she makes it.  She takes her circumstance, whatever it may be, and turns it into something good.  An afternoon in Fayetteville, NC, with a goofy 50-year-old father and a granddad who just had  bypass surgery?  Not a downer; an opportunity.  A chance to to embarrass your dad on Instagram.

She got the optimism and daring of her mother paired with the silliness of her dad.  Amazing when tossed together.