About a year ago, when I was seriously considering writing the history about my restaurant, a fellow author gave me this advice. She said, “If you’re gonna write a memoir, write it all. People can tell if you’re holding back.” I took that counsel and wrote the story as best I could recall. I’m glad I took the risk. I ended up with a better book, one that I am more proud of had I not been honest and just told the nice stories.
The book was written before she passed. And now that I am continuing to write, I have the same opportunity to be open. A good brother told me over lunch recently that he hears a new tone to my written voice. “You’re more kind,” he said. I told him thank you for pointing that out, because it’s not accidental. I have a new sense of intentionality now.
The biggest commitment I ever made in my short life was to make a vow to one woman, to love her as best I possibly could, regardless of sickness or health, for better or for worse, until death brought that responsibility to an end. I assumed that it would have been my death that completed that bond, and certainly I didn’t picture it being over somewhere in the middle of my third quarter.
As I reflect on this loyalty, I have nothing else that comes close to a vow like this. My children, of whom I am most proud and happy, are now delightful, independent, and responsible adults. That goal of child-rearing is fulfilled. After these two responsibilities, nothing else comes close to that level of weightiness.
With this actualization comes new liberty. I now can ponder what is next? It’s my belief that the Kingdom of Heaven is never in retreat. It never reverts backward. It always advances. It is always moving forward. My best days are not behind me. Instead, the best is yet to come.
By this I don’t mean I’ll have a better next marriage or raise new and better children. Faith sees what the eyes can’t. I see new assignments in my future and I am choosing to start today, amid my grief. I will hold both firmly, letting go of neither Hope or Loss.
I think this is what my friend sees in my writing now. I’m more free. And freedom is hard to hide, and impossible to fake.
I’m free to be more open, more hopeful, and more kind because of this new place in which I find myself. I can be more honest and can take more risks to love others. I am unreserved to be hurt by the process.
The Warrior and I always remind ourselves, “This is the way the day got started, and it only got better from here.”
Make today count.