I'm a lover of words, coffee and tequila. Lucky to be living my happily ever after as a wife and mom to two sweet kiddos and one crazy dog.

Be Kind.

I couldn't watch the montage of Robin Williams life on Good Morning America without crying. I read Norm Macdonald's twitter memorial aloud to my mom and my voice wavered and cracked with every line. I, like most people in my generation, grew up watching Robin Williams and owe so much of my own laughter and joy to his talent. But I have never been much affected by celebrity deaths other than the typical pang that is felt when something universally unfortunate happens in the world. As I was describing the heavy (and at the time baffling) emotional fog I had been fighting against all day to my mom she looked at me, her eyes tinged with sadness and said she knew exactly why it had been bothering me so much.

I lost someone I loved very much to suicide when I was a young girl. I lost her. She did not abandon me or make a conscious choice to exit my life. I lost her. It is not a story I share often, as it is very private and difficult for my family. And it is not really my story to share. It was my first true experience with grief but even at twelve I knew that this was somehow different. The oxygen had been stolen out of the room and I watched in horror as my typically strong and fairly stoic mother dissolved in an instant, spending an entire international flight crumpled into the fetal position, still for the occasional shudder of a sob.

The fact that this loss still sneaks up on me, bringing with it acute sadness (15 years later) surprised even me. Maybe it should make me angry. Maybe I should rant and scream about how selfish this person was, how they should have just snapped out of their depression and gotten their life back together. But how selfish of me to make this loss mine alone. Anger is not a productive emotion and I don't believe it is an appropriate one when we are talking about stories like these. Depression is not a bad day. Depression is not something that can be easily remedied. It is a deep, dark and complex monster, one that I have felt the insistent, confident tug of several times in my own life. It is a thief, stealing joy and sleep and love and rational thought. Once someone succumbs to the pull, it takes a literal army to attempt to revive them. And often they simply pull back a hollowed out shell of who the person used to be.

I don't pretend to know or understand what Robin William's family (or any of the countless other families in this same situation) is dealing with right now, except that whatever it is they are thinking or feeling- it is undoubtedly the right thing for them, right now. For me, this serves as a powerful reminder, to live my life by the maxim that has been embroidered on countless throw pillows and splashed across greeting cards. Be kinder than is necessary, always. Especially to those people who often seem least deserving. It is impossible to know the battles people are tirelessly fighting, inside their own heads or inside their own lives. Even the most exuberant person may be grappling just to hold on. A gentle and kind word, a silent smile…that influence may stretch much farther than you can imagine.

When you speak out in ignorance, when you share your controversial beliefs across social media, whether for attention or clicks or just for the entertainment of embroiling yourself in a Facebook argument please remember it is not some broad, generalized concept you're talking about. It's not an emotionless celebrity whose choices you're attacking. Respect people's stories, especially the unknown ones. You never know who you might be reminding of the most difficult time in their life.

Be kind. Always.

Growing Pains

Happy Fifth Birthday (a little late)