One of the books I had the chance to read over the last week or so (there's a bunch, why not read when you're stuck in bed with a broken foot?!) was In Honor by Jessi Kirby. It sounded amazing, something I could easily lose myself in and enjoy.
When I started reading - the first thing I felt were the tears. The opening scene of the book broke my heart - for Honor and because of my own recent loss that I'm still struggling with. It's something I still haven't really accepted, and to be honest - it hasn't really even sunk in.
So, here I was - sitting at the pool while the work kids did their swim practice tearing up while I read this book. I was sucked in almost right away, feeling everything Honor felt. I was right there with her, after all - it had been me just a few short months ago.
Honor is grieving her brother, Finn, - he was killed in action as a Marine. The day he is buried, she opens a letter that he wrote to her. Inside, Honor discovers concert tickets and decides that this letter and these tickets are Finn's final wishes and a challenge to her.
She accepts the challenge.
Except - her brother's ex best friend, Rusty - decides to tag along. He's drunk and passes out in the car. Not what she expected, but Honor is on a mission for her brother and at this point, nothing will stop her. Not even stubborn, drunk Rusty.
The trip from Texas to California isn't easy on either of them. They're both grieving, both trying to cope with this tremendous loss and trying to figure out where to go from here. It isn't easy. It isn't even fun at some parts, but the two begin to become closer and with each other - they honor Finn's memory the best they can.
Every once in awhile, you're bound to pick up a book that will change you. Most of the time, you don't even know that it will when you pick it up and begin to read. This happened to me with In Honor - and the impact it has had on my life in these last few days is still something I'm in awe over.
I said earlier in this post that I could relate to Honor in terms of her grief and loss.
At the end of Feburary, my grandmother passed away suddenly (and very unexpectedly) from a massive heart attack. The phone rang at five in the morning and I knew that something was very wrong. That's the kind of thing you see in the movies - a dead of night phone call to break the worst news.
No one expected it. As soon as I got the news - I was numb, lost, and I felt cold.
I didn't know how to handle it - when my grandpa passed away in 2004, we knew it was coming because he had been sick for a very long time. When Nana passed away - no one expected it. In fact, she had just recently had a great check up with her cardiologist and all seemed well.
We had started to spend more time together, something that we hadn't done since I was a kid. Family outings to lunch or the local zoo, she made me a cloak because I had been wanting one for years. The last time I saw her was at the end of December at my mother's 50th birthday dinner/party.
As Honor took the words from her brother to heart and accepted the 'challenge', I began to realize while reading that there were things that I needed to do in my life. Things that I knew, deep down, Nana wanted me to accomplish and succeed - no matter how long it took or how hard they were.
One of them would be embracing the side of the family I never really got to know. It would mean putting aside past hurts, awkward and tense relationships. I was unsure and nervous and terrified. I knew she wanted this - and I also knew (deep down) that it would have been her death that brought us all together.
More often than not I have been angry. Angry that I didn't get more time with her over the last few months. Angry that we never got to have lunch together again as we had planned. Angry that she was gone and I'm still struggling to accept that fact.
Those few weeks before Nana's death were just as hard - my dad lost the house we grew up in to foreclosure. Two weeks later, Nana died. I'm struggling to get through and deal with some very complex emotions and "things" from my past while trying to live my life to the fullest. I'm wavering back and forth on repairing an old, broken friendship - wondering if it is the right thing to do at the right time.
These last few months have not been easy at all. They've been rocky - full of emotion, exhaustion and a lot of change all at once.
After I finished reading In Honor, I realized that I am going to be okay. Things will get better. I also realized there are a few things I need to do to honor the memory of my grandmother - things she always encouraged me to do and things I never got around to. Now I am, because after reading this story - I have to.
I'm going to learn to drive and I'm going to work hard to earn my GED. These are the two things that she wanted me to do. She wanted me to do well in life and no matter what, she was always there to support and encourage me.
Just like Honor experiences - it isn't an easy journey to take, but no matter what - we should honor the ones we love, as hard as it is. And we have to remember that they are always with us.