Waiting for everyone else to leave, she appeared at my autograph table after my second and final presentation of the day. She alternatingly approached and retreated as if her body was mimicking an internal debate going on in her head. Her name tag revealed her as a Jennifer. I assumed she was trying to decide if she wanted to buy something. Instead, she hesitantly exclaimed, “I want to trade you something, but I don’t want you to think I’m crazy.”
“I won’t think you’re crazy,” I promised, immediately wary of my declaration.
Apparently, I was convincing enough, as she immediately began digging around in her purse. She pulled out a small black velvet box and placed it on the table between us. She said not a word. A bit perplexed, I determined that it looked like a ring box and deduced that her silence meant I was supposed to pick it up. I opened it. I was right; there were two simple rings inside, one band was rimmed with a row of tiny diamonds; the other was plain, but shiny.
The affirmation led me no closer to what they had to do with me. “Ok…” I stumbled. “It appears there’s a story here…”
Jennifer began, “Six months ago today, my husband left me while I was at work.”
Tears welled in her eyes. She offered no details as to his reason, but it was clear that it was as unexpected as it was devastating. She continued, “After he left, on a whim, I decided to apply for my dream job, the one I never went for while we were together. And I got it. It was amazing.”
She began sobbing, and it suddenly felt that this table between us was two miles wide. She apologized for breaking down, while I debated jumping across the table to give her a hug right then and there.
Jennifer regained her composure and said, “Sitting in your two sessions today…you just said so many things that really hit me. For a long time, I had given up on love. I had given up on myself. I told myself that this job — my career — was my new love now and that this would be the focus of my life.
“But you helped me to see that I can’t give up on love.”
She looked at the last red Adultitis First Aid Kit left on the table, motioned to the rings, and said, “If you’d be willing, I’d like to trade these for a new beginning. I don’t need them anymore.”
Without hesitation, I gave her the last Kit and a big hug and mumbled something that I don’t remember but was probably stupid.
I still have those rings. I wish I could have thanked her for her bravery because that was an incredibly brave thing she did.
It’s always a brave thing when we let go of something in order to move forward, whether it’s a relationship, a place, a project, or a story that we’ve told ourselves that’s no longer serving us.
This has been some year. As it winds down, I wonder if this is the best time we’ve ever had to let go of something in order to soar into 2021. We’ve been dealt some difficult cards, endured lots of change, and been forced to look at many things with new eyes.
I can’t tell you what exactly you need to let go in order to grow.
I have a feeling you already know.
What I can do is pray that you are filled with incredible bravery, a sense of peace, and a next chapter that surpasses your wildest dreams.