The phone would ring twice, maybe three times before I heard the receiver being lifted off of its holder, a throat clearing, and the voice of my grandmother say, “Hello?”
I would then launch into the chaotic stories of my life – problems at work, issues with friends, catastrophes with boys. I would tell her about how money was tight and work was rough and no, I was not having as much fun as I should.
There would be a pause and, after a few gentle reprimands for being too hard on myself, I would tell her about all the things I wanted to do and see, the people I wanted to meet, the lands I wanted to travel to. How, one day, I would go to Tanzania. How I was going to move to London. How I was going to write something amazing and have tons of people read it.
And she would say:
When my Sammy wants something – she’ll break through any wall. Nothing can stop her. Onward and upward.
When she passed away, my whole world was destroyed. Here, the invincible force of love that I knew since birth had been ripped from my tangible life and thrown into the hypothetical abyss. The person I considered my hero was never going to answer my phone call again. She would never repeat her battle cry of “Onward and Upward.”
Cleaning out her death-silenced home, I sat on the edge of her pristinely folded bed. Opening up a drawer, I saw every card and letter I sent her. Every program of every show I’ve ever been in. Everything I’ve ever written and given to her. All of it. In a pile, reminding me that all of my feelings for this incredible woman were somehow, someway, mutual. That somehow – I was her her hero, too. Not necessarily because I am a hero, but because her love was just that great that she was able to see the heroic in me.
I’ve been someone’s Christmas Tree. I’ve been someone’s Terrific #2. I’ve been someone’s Lioness. I’ve been someone’s Cookies. I’ve been friend, daughter, sister, godmother, boss, employee, enemy, and all things in between. Not because I think that I deserve to be, necessarily, but because the incredible women in my life decided I am deserving. These forces of nature who every single day battle all life has to throw at them – disease and heartache, death and new life, let down and gain. These women in my life make me who I am because they believe in who I am.
If you can find these people in your life… If you can find the people who, when you’ve hit rock bottom, help you to build a new foundation. When you’ve given all you’ve got, let you borrow some more. When you’ve been crying on the carpet, not only extend a hand to help you up, but also lie down next to you so you’re not alone at the bottom. When you find those people in your life – love them. Love them with all that you have. And never let them ever question that they are your heroes.