I am not the kind of person who likes to look back at the year or look forward at the new year.
I’m not sure why that is.
It’s probably because I’m really good at worst-case scenarios and not so awesome at best-case scenarios.
Yesterday, the last day of 2017 (the no-good, terrible year), I was in the grocery store line and the cashier said something nice about me making a good meal for my man and how cute we are together and then she said, “You’re best buddies. Best buddies forever. Me and my… ” Her voice caught on grief. “We were like that.”
And my heart broke right there.
And I said, “C–, your breaking my heart and you’re working and I can’t get over there on the other side of the belt and hug you because you’re working.”
The bagger girl looked away. I don’t think she’s good with emotion.
But C– just smiled at me and said, “It’s okay. It’s okay. I have a new man in my life and he’s so sweet to me and he showed up just when I needed him and my J–, I think he sent him to me.”
Her J — is her long-time, forever buddy, her husband who died.
So, I basically emoted all over the place while she rung up my crackers and I was like, “C–! You are killing me. I’m crying because I’m sad. I’m crying because I’m happy for you. I’m crying because you’re so beautiful. And this is all… it’s all so… It’s poignant.”
The bagger kept looking away.
And when I walked out of the grocery store, this person I don’t know, he touched my elbow to make me stop my mad-fast hustle to the car. It was -2 out. It was cold.
The guy who was all bundled up and wearing some Carhartt’s said, “You know. When you have a heart as open as yours, it’s going to hurt sometimes.”
And I said, brilliantly, “Oh.”
“It’s worth it,” he said. “Do good out there, Carrie. Do good.”
I was a little freaked out, but I thanked him, got to my car and sat there and just stared at this parking lot and the people rushing through the cold, and the grayness that seems to sometimes overwhelm everything during winter and my heart got so full that I started emoting everywhere again because that random Carhartt-wearing man took time out of his day to talk to me. He stopped in the cold to talk to me.
This guy knew my name somehow, but bigger than that? This guy knows about hearts.
So, here’s the thing – there are gifts out there (big gifts and little ones) and they can come from the weirdest places. They’re connections. They’re motivations. They are these tiny times where you get to see inside other people’s minds and hearts. Savor them this year. Try to dwell on those good things as much as we all dwell on the bad. And let both the good and the bad inspire you to make a difference in your own life and maybe even other people’s lives (big ways and little ways).
Thank you all for everything you’ve done for me this year. You’ve listened to me about my Scotty Dog’s death, my daughter’s transition from Harvard graduate to the U.S. Army Second Lt.. You’ve celebrated with me about book stuff and you’ve mourned with me when Don died. You haven’t mocked me too hard because Grover (the muppet) is my internal cheerleader and John Wayne (dead cowboy movie star) is my internal editor. Some of you have bought my books. On social media, so many of you have been so kind over and over. And you haven’t unsubscribed to my newsletter. That’s such a big deal to me.
I really appreciate how kind and giving you’ve all been and if I write any more I’ll start crying. And there’s no random stranger guy here to make me feel better.
Happy 2018! Make it yours! Make it ours. Let’s support each other all year long. It’s community that builds strength. Let’s be one together.
Random Writing Stuff
Here are the books I have coming out this year.
The Spy Who Played Baseball is a nonfiction picture book.
Escape From the Badlands is the last book in the Time Stoppers series.
And don’t forget about the awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!