Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What's Your Story?

I spend a large portion of my day listening to stories....some are comical, others quite colorful, and some just break my heart. I am a school counselor...a professional listener. I nod encouragement when the storyteller falters, share a knowing smile when the truth shines so clearly, and yes, I weep with my students when their story is more powerful than either of us can handle in the moment.
On this particular day a variety of vignettes from both ends of the spectrum presented themselves....a student who knew his athletic uniform was in his dad's truck, and his dad just left for North Carolina, "Coach is gonna make me run! I hate running!!".....
another who told about an argument between she and her mom and in the middle of it, her little sister came into the room carrying her soiled diaper. As she sashayed in with her round little bottom and toothless smile, both mother and teen burst into laughter and ended up hugging while baby sister giggled innocently.

After lunch, a student knocked softly, almost apologetically...and my day took on a different dimension.
Suzy is a naturally easy-going but diligent student who lives alone with her physically handicapped mom. The principal care taking of her beloved mom falls to Suzy, and their relationship is the anchor to her world. Today when she came in, the air was heavy with emotion and anxiety. I braced myself for the next chapter to her already difficult life.

 She began telling me how her mom had been in the hospital the past week and had just come home a few days ago when the phone rang. Her biological dad had had a massive stroke with a prognosis that was not good.  Suzy is the only biological relative her dad has. Her parents have been divorced for some time. The doctors told her they were not very hopeful about any recovery, and her father would probably never be able to live alone again.

 The decision to bring him to her home and care for both of her parents, or put him in a nursing home close by so she could  oversee the care for him rested on her innocent shoulders. Suzy and her mom have no car and caring for both parents would be a 24 hour commitment. After agonizing over her options, she decided to put him in the local nursing home so she could visit him and still care for her mother. As I listened to her, tears stung my eyes. Sometimes life plays hardball. She paused and said, "You know, I think I just saw the last of my childhood when I had to choose where my dad would be. I look around at other kids my age and hear them complain about their parents and it is like they are speaking a foreign language." Then she added ever so wisely, "I have also found out that during hard times in life, blessings appear....My dad can no longer drive his truck and so he wants me to have it. My mom and I can go to the grocery store and not have to ask anyone to take us!" The smile through her tears said it all. My heart wept so for her, but at the same time, I was blown away by this amazing outlook on life.

Wow! As she left my office I tried to wrap my mind around the courage of this sweet young teen. I felt honored she had told me her story ...Blessed to have shared with her..and humbled to know what a gracious spirit she embodies. I drove home reflecting on all the stories I heard from students. Alone in the car,I began to laugh out loud at myself.... "Now what was it I was grumbling about this morning? ...Lukewarm coffee? ...Cell phone charger not in the car? ...My shoes didn't match my outfit?"  Yeah, her story will definitely hang around in my head for awhile.
Once again I was struck by how powerful personal stories can be and if we allow them....they can mold our character and our future.  So while we are going through our days, living our lives, and developing the plot line to our own personal adventure books...Let's be sure we take the time to make every chapter meaningful and worth reading...

1 comment:

  1. What a great post about a living in the moment! Thanks for sharing, Sally!


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