I remember the night I met you.
I was lying face-down on the bedroom floor, bawling my eyes out. At first, I didn’t even know you were there. But after what seemed like hours had gone by, my sobs calmed down, and you put your arms around me, and told me how much you loved me. Oh yes, I had done many things wrong, engaged in activities that hurt you, but you forgave me and told me to forgive myself. I remember that night so clearly, because the timeline of my life shows a sharp division right at that moment.
It’s one of those before and after milestones that mark a lifetime. Before I met you on that floor, in that room, I lived with a desperate hollow seeking inside. I had been trying to fill that void - first with alcohol and drugs, later with crazy dieting, and finally, with family and possessions. The problem was, I couldn't satisfy it. I could ignore it for a short time, but I was always aware it was there; I had lived with it my whole life. Then, suddenly, on that night, the vacancy filled in and peace reigned.
You were what I sought.
And nearly twenty years later, when I found myself crashing to the floor again, my grief raw as I learned my sister was dead, lost to me - there you were again, comforting me and loving me the same as before. Days later, when I dissolved in tears and all I could do was beg for your help as I tried to write a eulogy of comfort and testimony, you responded to my pleas, covered me with peace, and let my thoughts flow. I poured my aching heart out to you time after time for three long years as I tried to deal with the pain of that loss. You never tired of listening to me. You never told me to just get over it. You never told me I had no reason to keep missing her. You never blamed me, even though I blamed myself. You just loved me and calmed me and held me tight.
Over and over again.
It is possible to find a passion in life so big the world fades away. You might not realize at the beginning of the journey how deeply it matters and how much it can overtake you. You push forward, pursuing your dream, barreling over the obstacles and overcoming the insurmountable. You crawl around on a frozen metal floor, exploring the foreign world of plumbing and electricity, pipes and circuit breakers. Your knees ache and your butt and toes lose feeling from the cold. You stare for hours at a diesel engine, yet another visitor from a foreign land. You watch and hold a light and fetch tools and pray that it will start.
You drive down the road, following at a safe distance, yet protectively guarding the back of your 25,000 pound dream, refusing to allow another car or truck to get too close: praying the whole time. You go to hardware stores for screws and pumps and battery chargers and heat. You take a deep breath and enter the auto store, throwing yourself on the mercy of the associate behind the counter while bracing yourself for the laughter from the entirely male clientele in the store as you explain your need and bare your ignorance. Yet you learn. You learn and you learn and you learn and the foreign begins to become familiar.
You talk to people and message people and connect with strangers and friends alike as you gather donations and support for the dream. You deflect the criticisms and negativity from those who wish to see you quit, or even fail, not even really knowing what to say to them because you understand, without the slightest doubt, you must continue to pursue your dream no matter how impossible it sometimes seems to be.
You make countless visits to grocery stores and bulk food stores, and you find yourself carrying heavier boxes and packages than you ever realized you could. You pack bag after bag, silently praying for the individuals who will be receiving the supplies inside. Your mind goes numb and your shoulders ache as the bags pile up - but you continue until they are done.
You move and go and think and prepare. You practice lighting pilot lights on a propane range, after muscling the awkward and weighty propane tank into place. You repeatedly strain your muscles hauling a heavy water heater up and down three flights of stairs to keep it safe from freezing at night. You feel the tension of the upcoming licensing inspection, and in the back of your mind you wonder if you are crazy for doing this. But there is so much to do and you push those thoughts away and continue to press on. Your muscles ache, your head pounds, you smash your finger with the water heater and it bleeds, but you ignore all those things and you continue to move forward.