For about 4 weeks now, every morning as I’m driving my boys to school, they ask to listen to Ben E. King’s version of “Stand By Me.” It is a regular occurrence for us to roll into the St. Francis parking lot singing at the top of our lungs, causing a little bit of a scene. Luckily, Speight and Sohren are still young enough to not care the kind of scene we’re creating with our wild, gypsy ways.
I can honestly say that every time I hear those first beats, I get tears in my eyes and start singing my heart out. And I’ve been wondering why this song popped back up in my life just recently…and why the hell am I getting so emotional at it?
After some pondering, here’s what I’ve deduced.
It’s straight up a nostalgic song for anyone who listened to it as a child or has an emotional association with it. I feel the nostalgia every time.
The message of the song is about sticking with your people. Whether it’s family, friend, lover, child, tribe…it’s about not giving up on your people. No matter what. Even if the sky is falling down. Or the mountain crumbles to the sea. Or if you’re in trouble. Like, when life is hard. Especially when life is really, really hard. It’s about not allowing your people to ever be lonely when they need to be supported…or loved unconditionally…or feeling believed in…or being fought for. And I really fuckin’ dig this message. It’s how I want to live and love. And that makes me emotional.
In the almost 2 years of GRIT’s life, we have experienced the full cycle of life and death in our community. We’ve watched our amazing pregnant mamas birth precious #gritnugget babies and we’ve mourned the loss of our beautiful friend Michelle Wolfe. And we’ve witnessed everything in between: new jobs, broken relationships, reconciled relationships, divorces, marriages, sickness, FUCKING CANCER, new homes, new schools, graduations, races won, races lost, mountains climbed, surgeries, successes, failures and about every single emotion that exists in the human experience. These are the hearty, REAL, messy bits of life. And I am moved beyond measure to have had the honor to experience ALL of this with my tribe here at GRIT.
I feel the loss of Michelle’s presence every day. Her death has made me exponentially more thoughtful about being present to every precious moment that I have and expressing my feelings as authentically as I can possibly express them…and savoring the relationships that I’ve been blessed with as much as possible. If I could have told Michelle one more time how much I loved her and how thankful I felt to have her in my life, I fucking would’ve. A hundred times. With a fiercely huge hug.
And so, befitting of the month of November and the opportunity to be thankful once again, I want to say “THANK YOU” to all of you. You fantastically wonderful, unique, hilarious, quirky, hard working, tenacious, kind, REAL humans that so deeply enrich my life every single damn day. You are precious to me. Every single one of you. And I feel so incredibly lucky to have you in my life. And in these hallowed halls of GRIT.
So, the timing of re-discovering this song as I ruminate over all these things is actually quite perfect. And the emotion make sense now. Because at the end of the day, the most important thing we as humans experience is relationship. Love. Connecting with people. This is where it’s at. And if we get the honor of standing by each other, no matter what, through all of life’s hearty, REAL, messy bits…then we have experienced what it means to be human. And what it means to truly love. And that is something to treasure and be thankful for.
Have a listen to the song. Stop what you’re doing for 3 minutes, turn those speakers up and maybe sing at the top of your lungs when that chorus drops in. You’ll see what I’m talking about.
To a life fully lived and loved-