Friday, January 13, 2012

Broken Beauty




A few weeks back, Cory and I went on a double-date with Sarah and Rick. This was our first true double, and that's just a crying shame.

You already know that Sarah and I go way back (here and here, for starters.) But it's really more than that.

When I was sixteen, I was rolled out of my high-school on an ambulance stretcher, very sure I was having a heart attack. I wasn't. But when I finally made it home that day, so tired of being the sick kid with the weird problems, feeling all embarrassed and still a little scared, hers was the number I dialed. She was what I needed. I wanted her to pray for me that day, because I believed all the way down that her prayers were always answered.



She has been my antidote to many of life's thrashings. She listened through the sludge of dumb mistakes until she heard my broken heart and then she kept on loving it.

She remembers my celebrity crushes better than I do. She knows the books I'll love most. She understands when I cancel our Christmas dinner on account of cramps and a bad attitude.

Two decades ago, she rumbled into my life in the passenger seat of a beat-up burgundy van packed full of who-knows-what. (I never bothered to investigate.)

Her dad was the driver. He looked like a renegade and spoke in a whisper.

He dropped her off at church and sometimes I rode back home with them, the three of us squeezed in together, along with everything else.


We'd thunder down the lane, hop out near the barn and walk in to a home where I always felt right.
It was warm inside, smelling like bacon and the kerosene heater. We spent hours upstairs talking about boys and reading magazine tips on eyeshadow and zit remedies.

The years rolled on and I kept my grip on Sarah, who kept her grip on me. Things changed all around us and they just kept changing. They never stopped. Choices were made and hearts were shattered and stitched back. Love bloomed wild. Jobs were landed. We held the slick keys of our first real freedom.


Then one night a phone call reeled me from a dream and it was her, just two buildings down. She said her dad had been in an accident. He was gone.

Our voices were small that night, in the car. Her heart was broken and the part of mine that was her broke with it. We drove back home to Ohio, on streets lined with sleeping houses. In the quiet, in the dark, we tried to force ourselves to feel what had happened. For me it was hard. It was too pitch black to make sense. It was too much change, too much sad, and I didn't know what to do, so I did what we had both always done; I stayed the same for her.

I think about her dad more often than she knows. I think about his ponytail and his wind-burned cheeks. I wish I hadn't been sixteen back then, because sixteen doesn't make room for the dad who drives the beat up van. It doesn't make room for the mom cooking dinner at the table.

I want to tell my Sixteen to notice that he's an artist and his art is right there, right in the barn that I walked past without another notion.

I want to tell Sixteen that someday, she'll care about his art. She'll see for herself the piercing beauty in junk redemption.

I think of him bending low, hoisting up, hauling out the things that everyone else had long given up on. I picture him smiling on the inside over what they were all too blind to see.

He made a home for broken things. He loved them into something exquisite and new.

Maybe he knew his own brokenness well enough to recognize it in a shard of pottery or a splinter of wood. Maybe I know mine well enough to recognize it in him.

*all photos courtesy of cmb

48 comments:

  1. Love this!

    If our sixteens only had a glimpse of the awesomeness we would be as thirties, forties, etc.

    I used to be afraid to get older. Now I realize that the wisdom I gain with each year and each gray hair far outweighs the fact that I am no longer as certain of what the girls are wearing these days. (I was so on top of those pin-striped jeans and fluorescent V-neck sweaters!)

    Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Just when I think you've written the best post ever...you stopped me in my tracks with this last sentence.

    Isn't it amazing that people can affect our lives in such profound ways ~ glad you had him in your life.

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  3. This is beautiful Shannan! Did I ever mention that I can't wait until your book is published???!!!

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  4. Beautiful writing. Heart-gripping wisdom and the sweetness of love for friends.

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  5. I don't know this man, but you have painted him so clearly to me now I see his beauty...and you've left me in tears.

    I love your take on "our sixteens." My dad had a heart attack at 16.... and despite the dr. giving him 6 months to live... it has been 17 more years of having my father with me. It was a wake-up call to my "sixteen" that didn't take notice of those things around me. However, I know that I have still missed so much.

    Thank you for this. I will be reading this more than once.

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  6. Beautiful. Simply beautiful worship to take the time and reflect this way. Truly.

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  7. what a lovely remembrance...Sarah is going to need tissues...xo

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  8. Geesh. This really got to me, I have a similar friend.

    the art, is just, well, perfect. I think that's what made me tear up, the marks of beauty that he left behind. It takes a certain eye to create from rust. I love it.

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  10. I read your words Shannon, rolling them around in my head, listening to them, a little like song lyrics sometimes. It seems to come so easily, this ability to write paintings. A talent much like Sarah's dad, making art out of the ordinary.
    Dana

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  11. How perfectly touching! We still have some of his Day-lilies in our yard.
    And Sarah...What a beautiful friend!!! She was someone I looked up to as long as I can remember. She had a love that went deep for so many. So good to see her smiling face again. :)
    ~Jennie

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  12. You are blessed to have been part of them both. Keep sharing cause I love to pass on these stories.

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  13. Shannan, you are Beauty Full.

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  14. I just want to drink up your words. They make me feel so full. Thank you.

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  15. oh, that last bit. blew me right over.
    gracious, is the lord full of goodness, or what?
    your friend is cute. and i adore your necklace.

    sweet dreams, farmgirl.

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  16. I love your voice here.

    Thank you so much for all your words.
    I love it here!

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  17. awesomeness ... thank you.

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  18. this post means so much to me as I wake up mourning the loss of a special friend mom. your words are always so timely. xoxo

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  19. Shannan, God has given u such a gift with words. I am sure your friend treasures this post as you honor her and remember her Dad.

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  20. So beautiful.

    Isn't it sad what we don't notice when we're young? Specifically when we're selfish teenagers? Isn't there some quote that talks about youth being wasted on the young? so true.

    That piece of art with the double image of sorts, the reflecting one (I believe the signature is Harnett or Hartnett?)~ I HAD that while living in Tennessee! I bought it at an antiques store! I must have left it at the Goodwill in Flagstaff when I rid myself of most things. It made me feel crazy as in "Didn't I have that? HUH?" and a bit sad.

    I love that you have your BFF. Reminds me of mine! She's my cousin and is a year older, but we've been close since we were littles. We always joke "I've known you as long as I've known myself!" I am eternally grateful to have her as my co-pilot in this life. This below specifically reminded me of me and my BFF:


    "She has been my antidote to many of life's thrashings. She listened through the sludge of dumb mistakes until she heard my broken heart and then she kept on loving it.

    She remembers my celebrity crushes better than I do. She knows the books I'll love most. She understands when I cancel our Christmas dinner on account of cramps and a bad attitude."

    Ahhh...my Kim knows my life story better than I do. She has better recall for past events than I do and can remind me of times, places and peeps. When I am awful she will gently tell me "Well...you could have handled that better..but listen.." and doesn't make me feel terrible. It's wonderful to be loved and accepted, but to also have a touchstone and someone who keeps you in check.

    Lovely, lovely!

    Oh! And I got her great hand-me-downs as a kid! Very pretty long dresses and a cool shirt with cowboy boots on it. I recall thinking if I wore her clothes, I'd always have a good day! She also named a lifesized blonde doll she had "Tina".

    Thanks for helping me to stroll down happy, joyful, grateful memory lane!

    xxoo~

    TT

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  21. So, so beautiful! The last two sentences tore me up. I was also that 16 year old...I think we all were. I can't tell you how much your blog helps me in my everyday life. Thank you for being open, honest, and real. And funny too! You are gifted, yes you are.

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  22. What a special friendship you two have. How often i'd like to go back & get my 16, 23, 28......year old self to take note of the folks in beat up vans passing through my life. Thanks for sharing your beautiful heart.
    PS ~ love the necklace.

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  23. So lovely, I cried. Oh the broken hearts and hurting souls I have walked past without noticing, far too wrapped up in myself. Isn't it beautiful that our sweet Jesus sees them all, and He cares?

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  24. I'm simply speechless. Beautiful post!!!
    I love your blog and visit often. :)

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  25. i can only imagine how precious and remarkable this will be for your friend to read.......

    it is a wonderful gift to have besties like this.....the ones that know us..all of us...and they choose to like us anyway.

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  26. There is nothing like a true blue friend. not one thing. so glad you two have each other. :) you're an awfully cool person, shan.

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  27. YOU ARE A FANTASTIC WRITER. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL POST. THANK YOU.

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  28. I loved this post. Every line of it.

    bye.

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  29. at nine i watched my dad die of cancer. so i know your sweet friend will be SO touched by this. just beautiful.

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  30. I love you and Sarah, she is so much like her Papa, very artistic and creative. And did I mention the lilies?? Loved his field of dreams and color!!

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  31. Sister. This is so wonderfully relatable and beautiful! Oh the Sixteen. What I'd tell her. x

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  32. What a touching tribute. Sarah is lucky to have you. You are lucky to have Sarah.

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  33. Brokenness made beautiful.
    By Shannan.

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  34. That right there is a gift. To all who knew and loved this man. You just gave them a word gift. The sweetest kind. Thank you for putting it here for all of us to know him too. SO kind. I want to live this life with eyesight like his, to see the things he was able to see. Love to you on this day friend.

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  35. These pictures could be my father's sheds, know wonder when I recently met Sarah, I adored her instantly. We hugged at that moment, as if we had been waiting to meet. Dear Friend, your words do that to me as a reader, waiting to meet the people you love. Waiting to meet the people who love you...
    ~G~xo

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  36. Your writing constantly makes my hair stand up on end. What an incredible tribute to your friend's father.

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  37. These words - of beauty and friendship and love - have me all choked up and praying for eyes wide open.

    Beautiful, beautiful.

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  38. I've just found your blog through some adoption contacts. My husband and I are in the process of our first adoption. I love your writing..thanks so much for sharing!
    Callie...... http://crazybeautifullife318.blogspot.com

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  39. The eyes are welling up. I've blinked back the drips in an effort to see to type. I've never met Sarah's dad. But I love him. I love her stories about him. And I love your perspective of him from a then Sixteen and now older. Awesome photos of his art and a great tribute to him and to Sarah. xoxo

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  40. So very sorry to here about your friends dad. I love how you captured all of his treasures.

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  41. i am in love with these photos. the one has inspired me to do a painting... thank you...

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  42. Lovester - where do I even begin? First, I could have very nearly missed this one, if I hadn't scrolled back! I was in OH all weekend and I didn't see this one come through fb. Second, in a crackup of myself, I totally didn't even recognize the dang barn photos until like the fourth one. ha! I kept wondering why the heck you were putting those photos in the blog, b/c I knew they weren't from the double-date night. Third, had I read this on Friday night, I would have been as an inconsolable mess as I was after watching When a Man Loves a Woman in Shupe (Yes, Janet, we (un)knowingly watched a rated R movie in Shupe! HA!). Fourth, I will never ever forget that you were my first call when I found out my dad passed away, nor that you listened, told me to wait, that you would call me back, then called back like 10 minutes later and told me you were going with me...and then we were off in the black of the night. I remember we just talked like normal most of the way, some about my dad, some about other things. I remember you dozing off finally on the last stretch of 127. I remember your sweet mama meeting us before the sun was up at the gas station and putting a small wad of cash in my hand. And you were there over the next few days for me. I love knowing that you think of my dad more often than I know. I wish he could have stuck around to see us as we are now, because he would SO appreciated our decorating skills more than our husbands! But, I'm also glad we both have pieces of him in our homes, and that we still have the barn to root through. He would have loved that. THANK YOU THANK YOU for this post. It means so much to me. You will never know.

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  44. really beautiful literature. the real quality of the story lies in the ability to transfer the feelings into the hearts of the readers. you are such a wonderful writer. everybody possess such experiences but only a few are able to pen it down...

    congrats...

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  45. Loved reading this. It makes me think about all the things I miss. I will make an effort to keep my eyes and heart open to things and people.

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