Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Is Your Name Leslie?

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I have some pretty random thoughts going on in my head this week.

There is a story that goes along with the title, but to share that story, I have to back up...

So, there are things that have happened in the past few months that I have not written about on here yet. Before jumping to conclusions, just know that I am not dating anyone... even though I wish I were.

Early in the summer, a brother of mine and a brother in law of mine decided to go into business together. As they got things going, they asked family members if anyone wanted to invest in the business. After a lot of thought and many prayers, I decided to take what little money we had left from the sale of our home and invest it in the business. I felt really good about it and as time goes on, I feel even better about the decision. They worked all summer getting the building ready to open at the beginning of September. I went to help when I could and when there was something I could help with. I did a lot of painting and a lot of cleaning, but I did not do much compared to their families.

As the date approached for the business to open, I realized that it might be a good thing for me to work there once Aaron started first grade, so I asked if they needed me at all.

I had been praying for the better part of the last year to know what to do to fill my time once Aaron Jr started first grade. After Aaron passed away, I really thought I would be married again by now and probably have at least one more child by now... but here we were nearly 5 years later and it is still just Aaron and me. So, I have prayed to know what direction to go, what to do... school, work, whatever? The only thing I knew for sure that I wanted was that my hours would be able to be just the hours that he would be in school. Nothing felt right, I even started to feel convinced that I should get a job at his school so that we had the same schedule, but for some reason that never felt right either.

Well, it turned out that it was going to work out for me to work at this new business and I could go to work after dropping off Aaron at school and I could leave in time to pick him up at the end of his school day. I was willing to work as few days as they needed me or as many days as they needed me... which has ended up being every week day. It works for me because the hours of Aaron's school day go by way faster with me being there at work.

It is also nice because I care about the success of the business for many reasons. I want it to succeed for the sake of my family members who are the main owners, and also for the other investors, and also for the sake of Aaron Jr and me. So, I have a vested interest in seeing it succeed. It makes it really fun to be there to do what I can to help it succeed.

Last week at work, some of the first customers of the day came in and were very complimentary and friendly. It was a married couple. A couple of times when I stopped to check on them, I felt like the husband was looking at me as though he thought I looked like someone he knew, but I tried to ignore it because I didn't want to be rude.

The next time I stopped to check on them, he was still staring at me very intently and then finally said, "Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure", I said.

"Is your name Leslie?" he asked.

Because I was expecting him to ask me if I had ever been told I look like Hilary Swank since I get asked that a lot, I was a little taken aback and I tentatively answered, "Yes?"

At that point, his wife said with embarrassment in her voice, "I read your blog."

I was relieved and got excited. She said she recognized me immediately when they walked in and wanted to say something, but she didn't dare and she was glad that her husband was brave enough to ask me. She asked me if it bothers me to be approached like that and I told her no. At that point, I started getting emotional and with tears in my eyes, I told them that I was grateful that they let me know that. I told her that it is so nice to be able to talk to someone who knows my story and knows the experiences that make me who I am. She said that her husband was asking her if she knew my last name and she said no, but that she knows my name is Leslie, that my husband's name is Aaron, and that my son's name is Aaron.

They were so sweet and I was so grateful to have met them.

This is not the first time this has happened. It has happened several times, once at church when I was going to a new ward (and I have kicked myself ever since after that girl approached me because we were new in that ward and I was uncomfortable and when she approached me I know I was really awkward and out of my element, and I had planned to try to talk to her again later, but I never had the chance). It happened in a McDonalds playland in SLC once and it also happened at a Chili's restaurant in Layton... that was the one where she knew for sure it was me because she caught a glimpse of my wedding ring. I have always been glad that people have approached me and I will tell you why...

After Aaron first passed away, when I was out in the world, I hated that I was carrying around so much sorrow and so much pain and no one in the world knew what I was going through. Not that they should all care what I was going through, but I think I felt like them knowing would just make me feel a little more normal and maybe I wouldn't feel like I was carrying it around alone. For people to know, it seemed like by them knowing it would share a little of the pain and the sorrow. It doesn't seem to make sense outside of my own head, but it makes sense when I don't try to explain it. I always had this strange desire to write on my forehead the words "I just lost my husband" so that people either knew to steer clear, or at least to be nice to me at the grocery store. I hated walking around out in the world and having people look at me as though my life and my world was normal... because just by looking at me, I am sure my life and my world looked normal, but inside of my... my world was completely shattered and falling apart. I hated that the world was going on when all I wanted the world to do was stop and rewind.

So, here is the reason that I am so grateful when people have approached me to tell me that they read my blog...

The average person who walks into this business and who is greeted by my cheerful hello and my smile could reach the conclusion that my world is normal and they would never know why I don't have a ring on my finger, they would never know that I have an amazing little boy who is at school, and they would just not know what makes me who I am today. But when I was asked last week by that couple if my name is Leslie... no matter what I was doing at the time, no matter what my mood was... she knew my back story. All they had seen when they walked in was a cheerful gal with a smile and a helpful attitude, a stranger to them as far as I knew... but when she told me that she reads my blog, I got emotional because all of a sudden this lady knew. She knew what I have been through. She knew my trials in the past few years, she knew my sorrows, she knew my JOYs, and she knew that the smile on my face that day did not mean that my life and my world is normal and perfect... but that I am moving forward the best I can in a situation that is less than ideal.

She went on to tell me how amazing she thinks I am... and the only reason I share that part of the story is because I read my widow friend, Lisa's posting the other day that was about this aspect of our lives... the aspect where we are often told how strong we are, how amazing we are, how inspiring we are...

...the interesting thing about it though is that even though it is a boost and it feels so great to hear kind words like that, the truth is that I don't feel inspiring, or amazing, or strong. There are days when I want to fold under the pressure, days when I truly don't want to get out of bed, days when all I want to do is be somewhere else not living MY life and just escape it for a while. As I type this, I realize that most people probably feel this way at times, so I don't think I am abnormal for feeling those things. But I am grateful for the knowledge that I have regarding the purpose of these difficult times in our lives, and I am grateful for the strength that I receive from the Lord to help me keep going... and to even keep going with a smile on my face so much of the time.
I am sure that if I knew more about this lady and the experiences of her life, I would think she is amazing as well. There are a lot of amazing people in my life that probably don't think of themselves as amazing, but I think they are amazing for enduring their trials and finding JOY in the journey of life. I guess we are all amazing if we look back on what we have endured and reflect on how it has helped us to grow... and that we keep going with the help of the Lord and do not give up.

I am grateful that this couple took the time to talk to me last week. I loved hearing that she reads my blog and am grateful for her kind words.

I am also grateful for the answer to prayers that I received by having a place to work each day while Aaron is in school. I know it was an answer to prayers because it fulfilled my main desire when it came to a job... that the hours were not longer than Aaron's school hours. I am also grateful that I get to work with family members every day and in an environment that is uplifting and fun and at a place where I actually look forward to going each day. I enjoy it. What a blessing.

I do keep waiting for my future husband to walk through the door where I work... it is so difficult to meet a great guy these days. :) But, I am trying to trust in the Lord's timing for that. I know if I wait upon the Lord, He will bring someone wonderful into our lives. :)

Anyway, I didn't mean for this posting to get THAT random, so I guess that is about it for now.

It has been forever since I have just typed out some feelings on here and it feels good to get a few thoughts out of my brain. Its late, so I hope there aren't too many errors and that my thoughts made any sense here. I guess I will find out tomorrow when I read through it again.

To sum it all up...

I am doing pretty good right now.
I have rough weeks like last week that really still catch me off guard and take me a few steps back, but I know that I am taking giant leaps forward more often than taking any steps back.

I am blessed and I am grateful.

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Sandra Tueller said...

It was such a honor to meet you ..you made our day ... you are so awesome and feel a blessing to share your life Thanks so much

Tawnie said...

Interesting thought. We all can come across as one person but if someone knows our story, we are seen as someone completely different.
I have secrets. Pains from my past that no one knows. I don't want them to be known. I just have to continually work through the details of my life. And to be honest, I've made huge strides this year. I told you this is YOUR year. I'm still holding out hope for you. That this is YOUR year and I hope by the end of it, you feel it was in some way. But let me tell you, this has been my year too! I've worked through a lot this year and it's been really good for me. I often look around and wonder what the secrets are of others. Everyone has them. Even if they're not secrets. Just their story. One of my favorite thoughts is, and I'm not sure how it is worded exactly, "BE KINDER THAN NECESSARY FOR EVERYONE IS FIGHTING SOME KIND OF BATTLE." And that is truth.
I have been seen as being snotty and think I'm too good for others. I had a good friend tell me this once then we got to know each other and she realized I was just shy and uncomfortable and didn't know what to say or do and that made me come across as she thought. Sad. I've tried to change that because I don't want others to see me like that. It couldn't be farther from the truth. In fact, you know how I feel about me. :) I'm working on that too. K. I've gone on too long. Love you lots Leslie. You are doing great!! Keep moving forward! Thanks for sharing.

jensenfamily said...

Aah! that's so great that you are working at a place you like, it makes a big difference I think - It's been way to long since we've seen each other~ Give that cute Aaron a squeeze from the denverites. you're awesome, i loved that post - Erin

Kristi said...

There was also a lady in MY ward that follows your blog. Did you ever talk to someone up here about that or did she just tell me?
It is interesting to think about how we are perceived without people truly knowing who we are and the details of our lives. It makes me want to get to the bottom of everyone's story so I can know the details of how they are amazing.
Interesting post. Glad you get to work at the business. We have heard that you are great there. What a perfect fit.
Glad things are moving forward and looking up. Love you lots.
I like what Tawnie said,that this is YOUR year. Should we plan dates for a wedding and see if it happens twice?

Ashlie said...

Leslie, I was glad to read that it brings you some comfort to have people recognize you and speak to you on occasion. Thank you for clarifying why it means something to you. I read your blog and I always want to comment but never feel like I have anything very useful to offer.

So if it means anything, I want to let you know that as a stranger who has never met you in person, I admire you and care about what happens to you. You have that effect on people by being brave enough to share part of your life openly and honestly in a setting like this. You are a human being carrying on and doing the best you can and that is inspiring. I hope it's still a little therapeutic for you to write and I think it will mean something to your posterity to have this record of your life and of Aaron and Aaron Jr's.

You seem like such a lovely person and I truly wish that things could have worked out differently for you as a young woman; I wish you had had more time with Aaron in this life. I hope you get the chance to have companionship and love again and I think that you will.. Meanwhile I'm so glad you have your little man who brings you such joy. You're a neat person Leslie and you are doing great. Hang in there.

Leslie said...

thank you ashlie.

your comment means a lot to me. you are so sweet.
thank you for sharing your kind words with me. i'm so grateful.