I don’t know how it happened exactly, it just did….maybe we couldn’t  really see each other’s heart or pain, maybe it was just too hard, maybe we needed time, maybe we were angry, maybe too much built up without the words,  maybe we loved each other too much, maybe we were just tired.

Some where along the way, my family of origin sort of fell apart. The bones were there, some little pockets of connection held tight quietly, others grew…my parents still loved us deeply. It was painful and sad…because under it all, my family loved each other fiercely.

I pulled away, I said hurtful things, I showed up when I shouldn’t have and didn’t come when it mattered…I couldn’t find my voice or way. So  I left, we all sort of did in our own way…and at moments that felt okay and required but after awhile you forget that you can go back or you don’t know how…and there are parts of you that are still wounded and you don’t know how that will work.  …and you wonder if anyone else has changed like you have. Maybe we are more fragile than we know.

But it is this fragility and deep tenderness that holds the love, the misunderstood messy love that holds families together, even when it looks like they are in pieces.  After enough time, healing, and a quiet hope brewing, a sort of courage starts to emerge. My mom must have held it or seen it in all her wisdom, or perhaps she just refused to ever let it go…but she asked me and my 3 sisters to meet her in New York City to surprise my dad for his 70th birthday.

My mom never asks us to do anything…ever. It was so easy to say yes to her…but I was nervous. I didn’t know after 2 years of almost no contact with my sisters what it would be like. Actually, I was scared….and there was never any outright fighting, it  was always all the things unsaid, all the things we felt and held, and the tension of trying to love well. …and knowing we had failed each other.  …but the love was bigger, we could handle anything for 72 hours for my parents (with a little liquor help), we would be on our best behavior. I thought I was on a mission of survival.

I was completely unprepared for what happened next.

My sisters, one by one, came bounding into the hotel room with an open heart…I wasn’t prepared for their kindness. It was awkward and sweet…and so very familiar. There was more space to be who we were, there was careful and calculated respect, there were a few tense moments, there was still dysfunction and the family dance, there was great healing, there was humor, there was soul relief… there was so much joy.

My parents were delirious…we all found each other again.

Despite ourselves and after probably a million prayers by my mom.

We went to the opera at the Met. We listened to the life stories of taxi drivers because this is the family superpower- strangers and everything unexpected.

We walked Bellevue and saw the spot where my dad proposed. We heard the pain and joy of all that place held. It was the beginning place of our family.

We ate crazy amazing food. We saw a Broadway show. We went on a hunt for the best street gyro. We shopped. We started a Twitter account. We partied (well, some of us did) and helped with hangovers.

I have never seen my parents so happy…and then we said goodbye and left. Not everything was back to normal, because it can never be that way again but there was a building of something new. Each of us in a new place. …and it all feels like a sorted miracle.

You just never know…

how you can grow.

where your pain can take you.

how the other person might miss you.

how deep your love went.

how much you still need each other.

how important it is to hold on to hope, no matter how small it is.

what can happen next.

I don’t pretend to know how to fix anything or how to heal…I just know you can find each other again…even when it feels like that may never happen. It can. It does. It will.

The doors have been closing lately, big doors…and the image my mind always returns to is Maria Von Trap (in The Sound of Music) sighing and say, “When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” . I always end up at Maria or Mother Superior, this delights me so.

And a window may be opening, but I keep thinking and saying to the Universe, “Noooo, really, THAT one?”, because it doesn’t look anything like I thought or really what  I planned or wanted. There in lies the mystery of my life and the revelation that once again I am not in control of the world or parts of my path…and this is probably a really good thing. Right? or this is what I tell myself.

So on about the 3rd round of doors closing and after prior episodes over the years of freaking out, sucking it up or taking it in stride, I have come up with 5 things you can do if you don’t have The Sound of Music or a Reverend Mother in your life:

1. Let it be. Just let yourself be disappointed, sad, angry…don’t try to fight it. …but if you are one of those that is convinced your life is now over, cut that ‘Let it be’ time in half- literally set the timer because we know you will want to obsess and analyze.

2. Give it over. Often times, these disappointments are too big and exhausting for us to hold in the moment or long term. Find a ritual or someplace/thing to hold your worry, pain, fears, unknown, or the future. After one enormous disappointment (because I happen to be one of those obsessors) a few years ago, I was a total mess…the only thing that got me through was my kitchen altar candle. Every morning I woke up and wrote what I needed held on a tiny piece of paper, put it under the candle and lit it. The wax poured over the stack of papers and my heart. When I pulled them apart months later, I found the same message written about 100 times, I never even realized.

Worry boxes and jars are also great ideas, and releasing things into a body of water also happens to be magic for a tender soul.

3. Return to play. I always forget this step. What got you to the place to want this thing? This joy? Go back to the beginning. The simplicity of play unlocks a certain joy that fuels our hope and drive, and gives us a grounding to move forward. This is why children hold a wisdom and strength we forget as adults. Return to your love in that grown-up way, and if that wasn’t it or you aren’t sure what to do, I suggest these kid things- jumping on a bed, dancing, blow bubbles, swing, have a silly string fight, ride something fast, make simple art.

4. Do something Kind. There is a point where stepping outside of yourself or your situation is a really good thing. Sometimes we forget what is going on all around us, that we aren’t alone, or that there is another story or perspective we may find comfort in. I love anonymous kindness for such times because we can offer someone else the very thing we may need ourselves- and by some kind of magic we get it by doing this. It also helps to connect to do something kind for someone we know, making the face-to-face connection makes life real and clears our vision. If you need ideas, check out www.guerrillagoodness.com, or GG Facebook. Kindness changes everything… everything.

5. Gather the Love. Now is the time to gather the caregivers and believers. Calling in the hope and strength makes space and shares the burden. It invites a tribe of people to love you into a new place and be part of finding windows or opening doors, or even celebrating with you when the moment comes where everything makes sense after all.  To all my introverted friends, it may be people in smaller doses or in nature and books, there are many ways to gather the love.

In the words of a very wise Jen Lemen:

Whatever you do, hold on to Hope!

The tiniest thread will twist into an unbreakable cord.

Let Hope anchor you in the possibility that is not the end of your story;

that change will bring you to peaceful shores.

Okay, so if you STILL aren’t feeling better and just need a believer, text DOOR CLOSED to me today (from now until 9pm EST tonight 4/9) at (407) 900-KIND and I will text you back a really simple message of HOPE….or forget all that and just go find the The Sound of Music, you can’t go wrong with TSoM, ever.