Monthly Archives: May 2011

Lessons from a Veteran

Growing up, I knew my grandfathers fought in World War II. Didn’t everyone’s Grandpa?

My grandfathers were two of the most amazing men I will ever know. They were strong yet fun. Compassionate yet firm. Everything a grandfather should be for their grandchild. I’m sure they weren’t perfect but to me, they were these pillars of strength.

Rarely, if ever, did we see our grandfathers cry. Men of that generation just didn’t do that.

Today, I’m writing about the one time I did see one of my grandfather’s cry.

I went to High School in Bedford County, Virginia. My grandfather moved to Bedford County not long after we did and I remember going over to his farm quite often. He was always at our house or we were at his. My timeline on when this actually happened is a bit foggy – as are a lot of things from my childhood – but I am pretty sure it happened while I was in high school.

Bedford County is home to the National D-Day Monument. Why? Because Bedford County suffered the highest loss per capita of ANY town or county in the United States on the Normandy Beaches. This was something Bedford County never forgot. We never forgot our fallen, those who so bravely gave their lives for our country, for our little hamlet.

I remember hearing about this play about D-Day in Bedford County. For some reason, I decided to invite my Grandfather to go with me. He, of course, agreed. Who says no to a granddaughter like me?

So we attended the play together. It focused on the reaction of the towns people at home in Bedford County. The telegrams and notifications that didn’t stop. The heartbreaking loss. The drive to be patriotic in an attempt to understand such a massive level of loss.

We sat together, my grandfather and I, in that darkened theatre, watching actors slowly unravel this massive day of tragedy.

Finally, it was over. The crowd clapped, stood, and there was a camaraderie felt that day.

It wasn’t until we got outside and looked at my grandfather that I noticed his tears.

He was covered in them.

My brave, strong, amazing Grandfather had tear-soaked cheeks.

He fumbled for his handkerchief and wiped them away, muttering something about allergies.

I remained quiet but I gave him a hug.

Not another word was spoken about those tears. We got in the car and he drove me home. I thanked him for going with me and he thanked me for inviting me.

I learned something that day.

I learned that it’s okay to feel. For the first time in years, I learned that yes, it’s okay to feel. It’s okay to let other people see you cry when something horribly tragic happens. Even if you try to blame them on allergies, tears are sometimes necessary. Tears happen. Even to old men.

So today, as you’re celebrating a day off work, remember the men and women who fought for us. Remember the men and women who ARE fighting for us. Remember their families and the monumental sacrifices which they have made so that we are able to continue to live free. Don’t ever forget. And if a tear happens to slide down your cheek while you’re remembering, it’s okay.

There is hope

In a lot of ways, telling the world about your battle with postpartum depression and anxiety or other forms of mental illness is what I’d imagine coming out feels like.




Being honest with the people closest to you (and not so close to you) about who you are on the inside and what you’re thinking?

Takes fortitude. Of the testicular variety.

May, as Katie pointed out, is Mental Health Awareness Month, and May 18th was designated as the day to blog for mental health. While the rally at my blog may be over and the month may be drawing to a close, the mission won’t be complete until the stigma is gone.

I’m humbled to be fighting this fight and championing this cause alongside some of the most courageous women (and the occasional man, too) I’ve had the pleasure of “meeting.”

I know that our work to end the stigma surrounding mental illness is likely an uphill battle. I know that we live in a world where people are quick to judge and slow to accept. I know.

And yet?

I believe in the power of people working together to make things happen. To make CHANGE happen.

I believe, as Mark Twain once said, that “the universal brotherhood of man is our most precious possession.”

That brotherhood, or sisterhood, or humankind-hood, is powerful. It is strong. It is brave. It is hope.

It matters.

You matter.

We are here for you.

If you’re reading this and you find yourself hurting and unsure of what the next step is, reach out. Reach out to your spouse or sibling or parent or friend. Reach out to an e-stranger friend who will listen.

There is hope.

There is always hope.

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.”

–Emily Dickinson