About ten years ago, Maggie (daughter now 22) came walking down the street with a bunch of weeds in each hand. These weeds were about 5 feet tall, had boxy stems, giant leaves, and small yellow flowers on the top. She brought them home, roots and all, because she
knew I liked yellow flowers and thought I would like to plant them. This is now the view from my bedroom window.
After looking at the picture, you may be asking, "Are they really weeds? What is a weed? " Meriam Webster defines a weed as "a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth, especially one that tends to overgrow or choke out more desirable plants."I had seen the field from where she pulled these weeds and "vigorous growth" would definitely be a defining characteristic. However, "not valued" can not be used to define them because I look forward to their tall growth every summer.
On my journey, there have been numerous events that could be perceived as weeds in my path. ( More about this in future blog posts so make sure to subscribe or check back if you would like to see how we find value in weeds. ) Just as the weeds Maggie brought home, the events on my journey are not defined as "not valued" and our family works hard to make sure the events do not "choke out more desirable" events along the way. It certainly wasn't/isn't easy but we make a conscience effort to do so.
As I have been reading through Todd's many journals, this belief of giving value to weeds, bumps on the journey, and making sure these things do not overshadow the desirable things is a common thread.
Todd struggled with depression, some of it pretty deep depression that impacted daily life.
The depression has been part of our journey for as long as Todd and I have been together. Over the 32 years, it has looked somewhat different as we aged, grew our family, and strengthened our relationship. There were times when we could almost predict the downward slope and were able to implement some strategies and things we had learned along the way. Then there were times it was as if his mood would fall off a high cliff into the deepest of valleys without any warning signs. We worked hard to talk with each other regarding the depression. He would often text or write me a note, usually because I was already asleep as he often stayed up all hours of the night. Below is a text from Todd to me just a few years back.
As I was cleaning out the garage, I found a stack of typed (Todd has quite the vintage typewriter collection) journal entries that I have never seen. While the majority of the time, Todd would reach out to me, there are plenty of typed and written entries that now have me asking, "Did I truly understand the depth of his depression?" These are the times I have to work hard to live in the moment (see previous posts) and appreciate the gifts that Todd has left in this world.
Seeing the value throughout the years almost always came after he climbed up out of the hole.
The value came when we realized that the highs may not have been as exciting if the lows had not been present.
Would the moments of feeling great feel as great without experiencing the depression? Without one extreme, would you feel the other extreme? Todd experienced just as many "euphoric highs" as "crazy lows" and some of his most creative times happened during the extremes.
Of course it was always easy to talk about the value in happier times but as years progressed, we learned to remind ourselves of this value during a time of depression. When "we" is used when discussing depression I do mean "we" because depression impacts all four of us living in the house and it took a group effort to make sure the great things around us weren't choked out by the tough things.
Some may be thinking, "How could she share such personal entries of Todd's?"
Todd's soul is the most beautiful soul I've ever known. His genuine love for people, big heart for all living things, and incredible sense of emotion is something all of us can learn from and he often dreamed of writing a book some day to bring knowledge and joy to others.
So, I am sharing his words and entries, not only to help me work through my own emotions, but to share a peek into his soul and his knowledge of emotions with all. Todd's life on earth was cut short at age 51. He continues to live all around us through the things he taught Maggie, Caroline, and me as we experience the journey together.
Todd has so much to give the world, including the weeds!
The purpose of this blog post is to share how, while it certainly isn't easy, you can find the value of weeds, the weeds (events on your journey) that may not be easily valued as they grow vigorously in your path. In addition, as we connect and reflect, showing how we must work to not let these weeds choke out the more desirable events on the path is important because there is plenty more path ahead!
Please share this blog and post with anyone that may be experiencing depression because Todd's voice can be heard to make a positive impact on others!