When I learned of my grandfather passing away in 1991, I was in college —and simply devastated. This was the man who sneaked me away to Baskin-Robbins as a child for chocolate fudge brownie ice cream cones and whispered, “Don’t tell your grandmother about this!” Then he’d give me a wink and return to savoring his dish.
Little did I know Grandma didn’t want Grandpa eating ice cream, and I had been his accomplice all these years. We had a special bond. He was my champion. Not just because of the ice cream, but he was someone who I looked up to.
And then he was gone.
As I was driving to join the family at the hospital, I heard Mariah Carey singing, “Hero.” Even though the song was not one of my favorites, I felt the radio was singing to me.
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong.
And you'll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you.
Was Grandpa looking down on me and healing my ailing heart through a popular R song?
Since I was an impressionable youngster, I chose to believe that and it became my signature song associated with loss. Ah, youth!
This month marked another painful time in my life. Even though it didn’t involve loss of a family member, I was losing a dear friend.
Over a misunderstanding revolving around politics, Facebook “unfriending” and unaccepted apologies, we weren’t able to get past the hurt we had inflicted on each other. This warring lasted for four long days.
I had always believed if you didn’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. So until I could calm down and think rationally, I knew it wasn’t safe to have a second debate with her. I’m a writer after all and am more concise on paper than when stumbling through a heated conversation.
We had been close for three years, so we knew we weren’t going to change our convictions.
Plus, we both thought the other should apologize. We were at a standstill.
Also this month, I was deeply moved by the loss of Nelson Mandela. As I studied his life again, I began to embrace the full effect of our world’s loss. I wept for his family and those touched by his greatness: especially those who learned true forgiveness and love from his example.
Most of that day, I went back and forth mourning Mr. Mandela to wondering how to end the argument with my friend.
As I was driving down the road listening to music, “Let There be Peace on Earth” emanated from the radio. A surge of emotions brought me to tears and I pulled over. My outburst was reminiscent of 22 years prior when my grandfather had died and Mariah was responsible. Not for his death, but my tears.
This time it was Vince Gill:
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be
(Sy Miller and Jill Jackson – 1955)
“Let it begin with me” is what gave me clarity. I’m not saying Mr. Mandela came to me through satellite radio, but once again the music opened my eyes and I knew what I needed to do.
After calling my friend and saying I wanted a truce, we both agreed we needed to forgive and forget. Neither one of us said we were sorry or what we did was wrong because we both needed to stand up for what we strongly believed in. But it was over … for good.
It was because we believed in true friendship, and during the holiday season, there needed to be more peace on earth.
Thank goodness, Mr. Mandela. You gave me the strength to let it begin with me.