In the End

Posted | 9 comments

In the End

“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.” ~ Nicole Krauss 

A few days ago, I came across one of the funniest pieces of writing I’ve encountered in a long time. It was so funny that I decided I had to share it with my husband. I started reading the article aloud to him, but barely three sentences in was laughing so hard tears were streaming down my face. I composed myself. I started again. This time I was only able to read a couple of sentences before the laughter and tears stopped the words.

This cycle of reading, laughing tears, and recompose went on until I finally got to the end. My husband was clearly enjoying my hysteria much more than anything I read. As he returned to his work, he kissed me on the forehead, and noted that he needed to record my laughter, so he could listen to it anytime he wanted.

One of the ways I earn a living is as a professional organizer. Recently, a client and I had spent the better part of the morning sifting and sorting through a lot of boxes in the muggy Georgia heat. As we were wrapping up for the day, she stopped and began to express her appreciation for the work I was doing.

I, of course, threw the compliment right back at her. I reminded her that she was the one who had made all the hard decisions and had really done all the hard work. I was no more than an extra set of hands just helping out. It was then that she looked me right in the eye and simply said, “Denise, take the compliment.” So, I shut my mouth as she expressed her gratitude. I accepted the compliment.

Last Thursday, I was in Atlanta for an event with Living Walls. Each year a group of artist are carefully selected to paint large scale murals on the sides of buildings. As I stood on the corner of Edgewood and Boulevard, I had the privilege of watching a young artist floating high above me in a cherry picker intently painting details on his masterpiece.

As I watched him work, I carefully snapped a few photos, trying to capture the best aspects of his beautiful and intricate painting. I was mesmerized, but finally realized it was time to move on. I took in the painting as a whole, yet again. I scanned it for any delightful details I might have missed. Finally, I glanced up one last time at the artist. He looked down at me (it was the first time I had seen his eyes leave his work), smiled sweetly, and gave me a little wave. I smiled and waved back.

This is all to say that I find myself wanting to linger over delicious meals and take long walks with people I love and adore. I want to listen intently and really, really hear what’s being said in the space between the words. I want to hold hands and hold space, share moments, and love with my whole heart wide open. I crave community and connection, a cup of hot tea, and hugs. I want to roll up my sleeves and give every ounce of love and support I have. I want to look people in the eye and tell them how much they mean to me and how blessed I am to have them in my life. I want to laugh and cry and laugh some more…all at the same time.

I find myself feeling overwhelmed by the sheer mass of it all and I’m tired. I’m very, very tired, and I’m scared.

In the end, only love is real.

So, I’m letting go of all that is not kind, that is not compassionate, and that is not loving. I’m not going to worry about crossing things off the list or rushing towards the end. Instead, I’m putting my plans, my projects, my programs on ice. I’m embracing generosity, reverence, respect, and empathy not only for others but for myself as well. I’m closing my eyes and breathing deep. I’m reaching out to hold hands and hearts. I’m just going to laugh until I cry and cry until I laugh again.

Because, in the end, only love is real.


  1. Such a good reminder! I need to slow down and just love and laugh way more.

    • I feel so blessed to be surrounded by people who reminded me and will (no doubt) keep reminding me.

  2. Denise, your post was a summary of all I hold dear. Some folks can’t (or aren’t able or willing) to provide the lovely things you mentioned… well, that just means you have to provide it for yourself. (That’s the hardest lesson I’ve learned in life so far.) Hugs, cheers, and heartiest thanks for sharing the laughter, connection, and LOVE you expressed with such utterly heartfelt words, and BRAVO to you for recognizing your special, cherished worth in accepting a compliment. (Second hardest lesson I’ve learned.) BASK in it, sweet one. xo

    • I’m not sure I completely accepted the compliment, but I gave my client the opportunity to express it none the less. ; ) I’ve been listening carefully to how people talk about themselves, and it makes me so sad to hear how hard they are on themselves. Then to have to acknowledge that I’m no better with myself breaks my heart. It has to end for all of us. We are all too awesome to be so hard on ourselves.

  3. P.S. Your hubby sounds like a gem, wanting to record your laughter.

    P.P.S.S. Holler if you want someone else to prepare that delicious meal. I’d drive to Georgia to do that.

    • btw…yes, he is a gem and you are welcome to visit in Georgia anytime you want. I’ll clear my calendar for you and we’ll hit all my favorite haunts plus some new ones and we will linger, my friend.

  4. Brava!

  5. I’m glad I waited to read this post when my life opened up a bit and I could linger.

    I find myself wanting the very same things: connection, a reverence for the food I eat, a softening around everything my “old self” pushes me to do. I want to take a walk every morning for the next two months, NOT to “exercise,” but rather, to watch the seasons change before my eyes rather than outside the window of my office.

    A very rich post. Thank you.

  6. I like what you said about “Letting go of all that is not kind and compassionate, and loving. Embracing empathy not only for others but for yourself.” It is great advice. Sometimes the hardest lesson to learn is self acceptance. We all get caught up in our own worries and fears and it can be hard to move forward out of guilt. The lesson here is to find peace within yourself. It is ok to have feelings and acknowledge them. I like this post because you prove to people that their feelings are valid and give them a reason to push forward.

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