Friday, May 13, 2016

Red Plate Special

You may or may not have seen the plate…its red and has the words “You are special today” around the edge. It was a big deal in my house growing up, handed out only on birthdays or other noteworthy occasions. It was thrilling to reach the dinner table and find yourself deemed worthy.

Last weekend Gracie and I traveled to my parent’s house to watch my baby sister graduate from college. I won't even get into how old this makes me feel. I was luxuriating for a few extra minutes in bed (I should have known) when I heard Gracie screaming from downstairs. What I heard her screaming was “I. AM. SPECIAL!!!!!!” 

Evidently, she was having a class 5 brat attack because she found out that my sister the graduate would be receiving the red plate that day. In true fashion my dad was reassuring her that yes, she was special, while my mom was telling her in an “ain’t nobody go time for this” tone that it just wasn’t her day. I decided on the middle of the road approach and took her little rear end outside to explain that while she was, in fact, special so was everyone else. And it was not a red plate special kind of day for her.

I was pretty horrified by her behavior but the more I thought about it…I think I may act that way myself sometimes. Maybe I don’t throw myself on the ground and scream, but I do expect special treatment. As many times as I say I don’t want to be “that girl”, I, mostly subconsciously, expect people to treat me with white gloves because my child died. Five years ago. 

Don’t get me wrong- I will always grieve Rip. And I will die trying to make a wonderful, positive legacy for him. But wanting someone to know about him so they will treat me with a “you poor dear” reaction is doing neither of those things. I find myself thinking that the world owes me because I have suffered the very most of anyone ever. Which of course of I haven’t. Not by a long shot.

Yes, losing a child makes me “special”…but everyone has something (or things) that make them horribly, awfully special. I know people who have battled infertility, lost one or both parents, faced impossible situations with their living children…lost children. Sometimes more than one of these things. 

I was given an impossible amount of love and comfort when I needed it most. The one thing good thing I can take from grief is the ability to help others through theirs, not drag them into mine, but to truly take what I have learned and make their journey easier.

I pray daily for my children not to encounter the darker things life has to offer, but at the end of the day, I can’t protect them from everything. What I hope to teach them is that no matter what life has in store for them, good or bad (and Lord, let it be mostly good)…everyone is special. I hope I can teach by example so that they learn its not always about them. And when your day is done, always be willing to pass the red plate.