But let me explain...
When my life exploded twenty years ago, I was thrown into a familiar position of having to take care of everything on my own. While it was sad and difficult to contemplate losing my marriage and possibly my family, I was already adept at pulling up my boot straps and summoning myself forward, alone.
But this time, I didn't have to. And last night's emotional response to my own story brought up overwhelming feelings of gratitude for the love I received way back when I needed it most.
Especially unexpected love.
It was just hours after my life-as-I-knew-it crumbled when my younger brother-in-law called to inform me of his flight information for the following day. He was on his way to my house.
Puzzled, I asked why. "Because you need me," he answered, confidently.
"I do?" was the only question I knew to ask. After all, I couldn't fathom asking anyone to fly several states away, while taking time off from work and their lives, to come to my aid.
This was my life that caved, so it was my job to pick up the pieces, wasn't it?
But this time, it wasn't.
In fact, when my brother-in-law arrived, he immediately got my then-husband out of the house (when I could not) and cooked, took care of my three kiddos under five, and kept an eye on me. He was taking over where his brother had bailed, all because he knew I needed it.
A week later when he had to leave, I was once again overwhelmed to learn that his older brother and partner were already en route, driving several states away to pick up where his sibling had left off. They, too, stayed another week as I began to slowly come out of my fog.
While the story may have been sad and difficult at one time in my life, it's also an old story, so I can usually tell it without any emotion.
But love, when it shows up unexpectedly, is timeless.
And the love that showed up twenty years ago left me stunned. Retelling it today often stirs tears of slap-happy, I-can't-believe-they-did-that gratitude.
I was blessed to have had those men carrying me when I could not hold it together on my own. And I was grateful that my soon-to-be ex-family didn't know the meaning of "ex". Instead, they chose to do the right thing.
They did for me what I could not do for myself. But more importantly, they did it when I didn't even know I needed it.
I never did lose them; in fact, I just returned from a weekend with two of them. They have become my forever family--the brother and partner of my ex-husband (whom I no longer have much contact with), and I am grateful for them, still.
Getting choked-up over love that remains bountiful two decades later is beautiful, overwhelming, and powerful.
Who are you grateful for, and how has love unexpectedly touched you?