I realized last night that thirty nine years ago yesterday was Junebug's first day of first grade at her beautiful brick school across the street from the hospital where her mom and dad worked. Her dad walked her to her classroom and later that day came back without her knowing to peek in on his youngest of five.
I can imagine Junebug and her dad walking hand and hand to school but I have no memory of this day. He might have been wearing a bow tie as he often did. I don't remember who put me to bed that night. I am not sure if they read me a book or sung me a song or rubbed my back. What I do remember is waking up in the middle of the night to a very loud groaning coming from the room next to mine.
All I knew was I did not want to see what was happening because I knew it was my dad and something was very wrong. I called to my mom over and over again and when I finally could move after feeling completely frozen in fear, I ran as fast as I could to my sister's room upstairs and waited there until the ambulance came.
My mom and brothers went to the hospital and I stayed at home with my sister and our neighbors. I am not sure how much time passed before the phone rang and it was about my dad. I thought I heard my sister say it was good news and his heart was beating again. I felt relief and although it was not quite morning, I went to play basketball with my neighbor.
When I came back in the house after playing basketball, I heard loud crying coming from the kitchen and I was so confused. I heard my oldest sister crying the loudest and because her cry was the loudest, my six year old brain made up for a moment that she must have died.
I remember going back to school after this day. It was a hard year. My teacher left not long after because her child became very sick. A classmate was killed in a farming accident. My cat died. My brother's appendix ruptured. I am sure I lost a few teeth. My dad died.
When we lose someone we love and depend on so much, we have to carve a path out of the darkness. Being the youngest in a large family and afraid of the dark, Junebug carved a path about as quick as she ran to her sister's room away from the loud and sudden loss; and she found light in her friends at school and in the neighborhood. While she loved the company of her friends, she ran so fast out of the dark towards the light of others, in the rush she forgot she also had her own light.
I bought junebugstrong.com a couple months before Jay died. I left my company in October and bought this website and a few others for my next "big idea". Jay always was my biggest supporter and was the sounding board for all of my ideas. In my Junebug dream last fall, Junebug Strong was a character in a book for kids I was going to write. I had no idea it would be how I would begin to carve my path out of my darkness as an adult and that Junebug Strong would be me.
I have to reassure Junebug often because she has a lot on her mind. Sometimes I am able to do this but often I have to ask others to help. She worries that we are making too big a deal about ourselves. She feels embarrassed for others to know that she has feelings. She thinks she is weird for writing openly about something that feels private. She worries in sharing she will lose too much of the space she created around herself. She wonders if she is doing this the right way and are we almost there yet? She feels not sure of who she is on this new path. And she is most afraid that by taking this path, she will lose others on the way.
Despite her worries, the uncertainty about where we are going and the many places that are dark along the way, the light we are finding is our own and that is why we keep writing.
The song is "Here Comes The Sun" by The Beatles.