Sharing stories

A few weeks after Justin died, a friend kept reaching out until we had a date on the calendar to meet for lunch. Andy came too, so the three of us sat down to catch up. I don’t remember much of what we talked about, but I do remember this. My friend said, “Tell me your favorite story about your brother.”  My mind went blank, “My favorite!?” She rescued me a moment later, “Okay, not your favorite, just any story.”

I thought for a minute. “You know how Junior High boys go through a stage where they realize that girls like cologne?” She immediately started nodding and laughing. I said, “Justin was no exception to this…and it was the mid-nineties, so do you remember Cool Water?” This led to a tangent about Cool Water cologne samples in teen magazines and lots more laughter.

Justin also had a cologne by Tommy Hilfiger called Tommy Boy (I’m pretty sure the cologne came before the movie). Most teenage boys often think “more is better.” Examples: Axe body spray, Old Spice, etc. Justin took to wearing both colognes at once, if for no other reason so that when girls asked him what he was wearing he could honestly answer, “Cool Boy.”

He never lacked for confidence.

It took me months to realize the gift my friend gave me by asking me to talk about Justin. She had never met him but had heard me share stories over the years. I don’t think she was asking to be polite, or because she thought it was the right thing to do. I think my friend could see that I was broken over the loss of my brother and she wanted me to know she cared.

I’m so glad she asked.

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What I’m not reading

Andy and I went to a conference in 2013 where a speaker talked about his “Family Rules.” We loosely implemented a few of them in our home- primarily as a way to gently tease each other when we do something poorly.

One of the Family Rules is “Finish the job.” Whether the job is unloading the dishwasher, folding laundry, whatever, you keep going until it’s done. Logical? Yes. Easy for me? No. I’m a pretty lousy housekeeper. Just ask the friend who visited while Andy was out of town and upon taking two steps into the house had a receipt stick to her foot.

Anyway, I was reminded of this rule when I decided to see how many books I have started but not finished reading. This is what I found:

  1. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. I started this book over a year ago and stopped when I was crying too much while reading it. I still have a bookmark in it for when I’m emotionally ready to read about the holocaust again. (who is ever ready for that!?!)
  2. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker. I started this book when it came out this past summer. And I stopped for no reason whatsoever. I have five-ish chapters left and should just stop this post to finish the book now.
  3. Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. This indulges my dream of travel and I have read it slowly because I’m adding little sticky notes throughout the book. I have about one chapter left, I made some progress on it this week.
  4. The Shack by William P. Young. I started this about a month ago and have been loving it. Again, just a few chapters left.
  5. Through the Eyes of a Lion: Facing impossible pain finding incredible power by Levi Lusko. Oof, this one is good and hard to read, which is probably why I put a temporary hold on it. The man writes of losing his daughter suddenly. My counselor recommended it and I said, “Oh, I own that one, just haven’t read it yet” (a related problem I have) so I picked it up but put it down again after some tears.
  6. Out of Sorts: Making peace with an Evolving Faith by Sarah Bessey. This one is really good but it’s due back at the library so I think I’ll need to re-check it out again. I regretfully didn’t get to it fast enough.
  7. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. This one I just started yesterday so I don’t feel bad about it not being finished yet, but it is already SO good. This was a gift from Andy this Christmas.

I’ll admit I was a little surprised to see the number so high- I thought I had four or five in process. In between starting books 2-5 I did read other books in their entirety. Maybe I’ll get to sharing about them on here. But for now, it looks like I should keep reading to get a few of these off my nightstand.