This morning, my childhood friend Becky posted a Sara Bareilles song on Facebook: Brave. And it triggered a memory of Becky’s mother.
Many years ago, after becoming engaged, I visited the mom of my friends Mike, Bobby and Becky Bruce-West. By that time, I had known Mrs. Bruce many years; since I was ten or eleven years old. She was like a second mom to me, and she really was a second mom to my cousin, Pam Bruce, who had become her daughter-in-law. As much as I loved Mrs. Bruce, I had only been in sporadic contact with her over the last several years. College took me out of town, then working and living in the Atlanta area kept me away. Pam and Mike were married and living in other parts of the world, Becky was married and living in Florida. The reasons for me to visit the Bruce home had grown up and moved on.
But once I was betrothed, I had a strong need to see her. I called and asked if I could come visit for an afternoon. She laughed. “Of course you can come see me! Anytime!”.
We caught up and laughed about old times. Then, in her sweet, aging voice, she asked: “Well Danita Clark, what will your new name be?”
“Able”, I said.
“Able”, she paused, and her blue eyes lit up like sparklers. “I can’t think of a more perfect name for you. Ever since I’ve known you, you’ve been one of the most able people I’ve ever known. Brave, too.”
Hearing her words, I was overjoyed, because Mrs. Bruce wasn’t one to spout empty accolades. I also felt like an impostor. She had no way of knowing, but already, the little girl Mrs. B had known as able and brave, had become a young woman stripped of bravery.
When did that happen? Where did I leave the bravery? When? I’m not fully certain, but I think I know. I believe I left little pieces of bravery and able-ness on the ground around me, under my feet. Anytime I felt inadequate, I gave away bravery. No one took it from me. I handed it over, let it slip from my hands and hit the red clay, where it sank deep and became buried.
Unwittingly, as my friend Teresa recently said, I had set myself up to marry a man who didn’t value me. After I married him, I became less able, less brave. For twenty-four years, I had no bravery.
All that changed six years ago, come this July.
Glory to God, I survived.
And with a lot of help from Him, many good friends, some vagabond travels, family, and a new Rodan+Fields business, I have been ‘able’ to recover my bravery.
The insecurity, uncertainty and no-bravery, is now nothing more than an oily, greasy mark in the middle of the road. It sort of looks like an old, empty can of Crisco.