A few days ago, our family hired a nice man to place fresh pine straw (think mulch) in many places throughout our yard. For several hours, the man worked, and then he spent another good chunk of time walking around inspecting his work.
At last, he knocked on our door. I was surprised to find him visibly upset.
He’d lost his keys somewhere in the process, and even after thorough investigation, they were nowhere to be found.
With desperation in his eyes, he asked if we had a metal detector.
Sadly, we didn’t, but I said I’d ask my neighbors.
When I asked if he had a spare key to his truck that someone could bring over, he shook his head. He concluded that his only choice was to rake up all the pine straw and hope the keys would turn up.
I sent a text to some neighbors about a metal detector and then tried to go back to preparing for a media interview I had in an hour. That’s when I overheard the man talking on the phone.
To the person on the other end, he explained that his family was going through hard times, and he couldn’t afford a tow or a replacement key.
Towards the end of the call, his voice broke.
I immediately ran upstairs, got dressed, and asked Avery to come with me to help this man find his keys.
For forty-five minutes we dug while the man alternated between thanking us and beating himself up for his mistake.
“I’ve never done this before,” he said, listing off all the important keys on that ring.
“We all have a lot on our minds right now,” I consoled, adding that I did something similar the other day.
“You are so kind to help me,” he said again, flustered and embarrassed.
Once every piece of pine straw in the entire front yard had been removed, I went over to the area where the man’s truck was parked. I’d noticed the deep pockets in his jeans and felt certain his keys never even made it to his pocket.
As I surveyed the ground around the vicinity of the truck, there, under a very special tree in our front yard, were his keys gleaming in the sun.
“I found them!” I cried out excitedly.
The man ran over.
“Where were they?” he asked in disbelief.
“Right there in grass,” I pointed with my finger.
The man scratched his head in disbelief. “I walked around there at least five times,” he said, his eyes filling with tears of relief.
In that moment, I wanted to tell him.
I wanted to tell him about the former hole in the ground that resulted when the little tree growing there was savagely cut up, causing the tree to die.
I wanted to tell him how I drove by that desolate hole day after day during the darkest spring season of my life as my father-in-law got sick from cancer and my self-care became non-existent.
I wanted to tell him that 45 days after Ben passed, my husband unexpectedly announced that he wanted to plant a tree in memory of his dad.
I wanted to tell him that on Easter Sunday 2017, my family planted a new tree, filling the gaping hole with new life, and it was the first time I saw Scott smile in 45 days.
I wanted to tell the man all these things, but I knew my emotional state would cause my words to be incoherent.
I decided it was appropriate to write down the things I wanted to tell him and put them here. Perhaps this post finds you, dear reader, with lost keys… with gaping holes… with voice cracks and empty pockets.
Imagine me joining you in the search, down on bended knees beside you, whispering these assurances:
- If there’s a hole waiting to be filled, don’t let anyone pressure you into believing it needs to be filled right now; a little more time can be a miraculous thing.
- If your heart indicates it IS time to fill that hole, know that although it may not the same as it was before, it can still be okay…maybe even stronger than before.
- When your loved ones ask for answers about that hole and you haven’t got any, remember this lifeline: “We don't have to know how things are going to turn out. We'll take it one day at a time and get through this together.” Say the words. Live the words. Let them take root.
And finally, and perhaps most importantly:
- Plant something in your yard or in your windowsill and care for it each day. This won't take away the sadness or fill the loss, but it will enhance your view. And perhaps when you least expect it, the plant will bear miraculous fruit, reminding you that although you walk through a painful season, you don’t walk alone.
Finding the man’s keys was one of the most joy-filled moments I’ve felt in a month. And though the man's face was covered by a protective mask, his eyes indicated it was a joy-filled moment for him too.
“I’d hug you if…” he’d said, extending his gloved hands into the air.
Neither of us made a move. How odd to suddenly remember hugs are prohibited and physical proximity is dangerous.
“Oh, but you did hug me,” I said, filling that space right back up with joy.
I turned and looked once more at the tree our family lovingly calls “The GB Tree” after the girls’ Grandpa Ben.
I marveled at the miracle fruit that tree produced in the middle of a drought—
And I was hugged once again.
Dear friends of The Hands Free Revoution: In the spring of 2017, I launched Only Love Today into the world while experiencing a debilitating combination of exhaustion, grief, shame, and depression. As I work tirelessly to prepare for LIVE LOVE NOW’s upcoming release during an unprecedented time in history, I am experiencing some very uncomfortable emotions, including fear and grief. Yet, in recent podcast interviews I have been recording for the launch, there is vulnerability, truth, and hope among the voice cracks. If there is ever a time to be open about our struggles and the tools that help us carry through, it’s now. I’d be honored if you’d listen to this poignant conversation I had with Megan of Don’t Mom Alone – a conversation we both agreed could not wait until book release to be aired. Please also consider sitting down with your kids and teens to watch to my recent Facebook Live story and invitation. I’d so love your remarkable young people to submit video clips & be part of my special book trailer.
Asking for help and support does not come easy to me—but it’s something I am learning to do. Thank you for helping me continue my life’s work as an author by pre-ordering LIVE LOVE NOW. Pre-orders have never been so important; they send a powerful message to publishers and retailers that my work is valued and needs to be available to the world in the days and months ahead.
If you are on the fence, the early reviews posted on Goodreads offer great insight on what you might expect to happen in your home and heart with LIVE LOVE NOW as your guide.
I love you, RMS