in the south people bring food over for every possible occasion. when a baby comes into this world casseroles are delivered and frozen to last in the new, adjusting first weeks. when we lose someone comfort is given in forms that can stabilize and nourish right then and there. the immediacy is automatic. you might not eat it, but you want to hold it in place of what you have lost. i did at least. i was ready, quickly awaiting to grasp anything up and hold it in place of the crashing wave of grief that loomed just over my head when i lost my grandmother. she was the heart of our family and then her heart gave out and we were all at sea. coming home from the hospital that night was foggy. we stayed in the car for a long time before entering the house again. we were afraid to go on without her. i had been by her side in the hospital, singing amazing grace to her as she passed away. and now sitting in the car outside of what felt like my true childhood home, my mom, aunts, and i could only stare. how was the frame still standing when the foundation was gone? nothing would ever be the same. when we finally entered and got settled around the dinning room table papa got out mama’s bible. in it was a passage about faith. she wrote about turning it all over to Him, true faith. it was dated on my birthday, march 31st, years before i was born. later i would lift her writing from that passage and have faith, written in her penmanship, tattooed on my body along with my mother’s script of hope and my own of love. the next day people came. fried chicken, pie, biscuits. things to hold and warm and comfort. these memories are a jumble of images, but very clearly i see something that has stuck with me ever since. faded turqouise tupperware holding green beans in the weathered hands of an old country woman in clothes she made herself and a hat that was meant for church. her husband stood beside her dressed up in overalls and a working man’s gentility. they had known fannie sue her whole life. i can fill out every piece of this memory, every corner and shade, as if i am standing right in front of them again. i was struck then and still am by this simplicity, this precious offering of all they had to give, the humility with which it was offered, the deep truth in the paying of their respects. green beans. for years now it has been a symbol of where i come from that has anchored me in goodness, grace, and humility. a few days after this i would lose my first off-broadway theatre job because the director didn’t want to wait for me to bury my grandmother and then a few days after that i would get my first television job. breathe in. breathe out. like paul says in Philippians “i faced plenty” surrounded by my family in a time of grief that to this day still clings to our skin like smoke, a time that i now look on as one of the richest times of my life, sitting on the back porch with my aunts and momma and papa in our bare feet and trying to put the fractured pieces of our lives back together again. it was a quiet time that seemed to stand still and apart from all that swirled in my little world. the priviledge of that time outweighed the loss of a job and the second opportunity that came, with the timing we all swore was a result of Mama Toney herself having a sit down with God about it in heaven, was extra. green beans.
i think my relationship with my Heavenly Father has been one of my greatest accomplishments, and in looking at my life so far, at what i thought i wanted and used to hope for, i see His hand and favor guiding me to something more. i could only see that by letting go, saying goodbye, and walking through grief into new promises. i have had to do this many times since my grandmother’s passing, sometimes wondering when and if i would ever be done working on myself and if my walk would ever be easier, but each time I have been surprised by goodness, by green beans. as a gift to myself for this last job i bought a gold green bean necklace. (yes, i know! i was surprised they made them too!) my hope for all of us is that we continue to walk well and allow for those moments of extra to catch us and take our breathe for a second.