Yesterday afternoon, I received an unexpected phone call.
It was Mrs. P’s.
“‘Hi honey. Will you have Jena call me?”
I’m sorry? What?
My 5th grade teacher just called me up to ask if one of my dearest friends would call her.
“Do you trust me” she asked.
“Yes.” I answer.
Because seriously, I do. More now than ever before.
More now than when I unburdened myself of that dreadful secret.
More now than the day that she said, “I believe you. It happened to me too. You’re going to be okay.”
Because since then, I’ve spoken to her regularly and she’s given me the advice of someone who knows.
She’s sent me newspaper clippings and letters of her own from the days when she trail-blazed advocacy work in my hometown of El Paso, TX.
You know, just in case it would spur an idea or an inspiration for me.
She’s sent me a yearbook from the time I knew her and a card telling me how proud she is of me.
Actually, that’s the one thing she tells me the most.
“Oh honey, I’m just so proud of you.”
And now she is pouring out of my heart and into Jena’s all the way from Colorado.
Well, because Jena and I are being spirited away on an adventure.
It’s time to shoot another calendar of survivors and this year the theme is solidarity. This year we are asking survivors to invite someone who was invaluable to them as they struggled to heal.
This year, I offer an opportunity for us all to say,
“Thank you. You saved me. I felt rescued. Blessed be.”
My path was clearly lit by the souls of many strong women willing and able to pour good things into me.
There was and still is Catrina, Jude, my mother, my grandmother and my Aunt Debbie.
I have never been alone. Not ever.
For this project, I’ve chosen to invite Mrs. P’s – or Lisa as I now call her (because I’m a grown up, ya’ll!) because she is where my healing all began.
She put me on the path that led straight to the others.
On August 4th, Jena and I will fly to Colorado to meet Lisa together.
So as of yesterday, Jena McShane and Lisa Griffin have some kind of secret. I’m not allowed to know and Jena is not telling.
That’s why she’s coming along.
Sure. She is a talented photographer. Supa dupa talented doesn’t even do her justice.
You should totally vote for her in this competition. #ShamelessPlug
Jena creates images from a place of empathy. We shared a wadded up handkerchief with another survivor. We are committed to eating burritos and going hiking if my emotions get the best of me (or us both). I’m sure their will be cocktails, hugs, selfies and truly intimate moments but Jena is special.
She’ll get it.
Sometimes…okay, all of the time, we refer to each other as #McCracker because obviously.
She told the survivors who have already volunteered for #Soulfire2015 that as our photographer,
“Instead of capturing souls, I will capture soulfires.”
I told her that we are just beginning the Sisterhood of Traveling Soulfires.
And then we giggled. And teared up. And geeked out because that was super cheesy and I don’t even care.
I know. I know.
I can’t even stand myself right now.
I’m not even sure what this means for me. I get a little choked up just thinking about it.
All I know today is that I am following a journey of gratitude.
My good life is a testimony to the way I was loved.
Today and everyday, that love is gifted to those around me.
It expands. It surrounds. It grows.
It inspires the creation of the foundation now and into the future.
So this is the cat. I release it from the bag.
And in a few weeks, I take it on the road.
PS – To keep up with us, follow the hashtag #Soulfire2015 or #McCracker. You know, what evs.