A Beautiful Day

I celebrated the completion of my Christmas shopping by catching a matinee on Saturday. For 108 minutes I sat in a nearly empty theater, lost in the world of Fred Rogers and the cynical reporter assigned to write a fluff piece about him.

Friends, you need to see this movie.

In fact, I think that everyone needs to see this movie. It’s an uplifting glimpse into how Fred Rogers treated people. He loved people and could always spare the time for a sick child or to inquire about what was upsetting to another adult.

“I like you just the way you are” is a line he used often and meant. He truly was interested in the well being of others and he believed in the power of a kind word.

Personally, I’m trying to do better at offering kind words, especially to strangers. I don’t do small talk very well but never hesitate to compliment a stranger’s accessories. It sounds silly but most women beam when you notice their scarf, cute hat or broach and it often inspires a conversation.

The bottom line is that this movie has a happy ending, something the world so desperately needs. I’m sick of political bickering. I miss the days before Facebook when I didn’t know that so many neighbors and friends are actually selfish racists and homophobes who mainly want everyone to be exactly like them.

I’m tired of being disappointed by the world. We need more Fred Rogers and less of what’s on the news every day.

Tom Hanks does a beautiful job bringing to life this man who was an icon of so many Americans childhoods. I was also pleased to see his wife, Joanne Rogers, had a quick cameo.

In short, this movie made my day and I’m excited to add it to my collection.

If you’re so cynical that you think you don’t need to see the film, you need it most of all. Go. Report back. We’ll chat about it.

Remembering Natalie

Frequent readers here know that this space is typically dedicated to positive topics – adventures, stories about my cat, the occasional pep talk and whatever else is on my mind.

The working theory is that there’s enough negativity in the world without my adding to it. But something happened this week that’s been weighing heavy on my mind and heart.

It’s time to talk about it.

On Monday morning, a woman that I knew was kidnapped and murdered by her estranged husband before he turned the gun on himself.

Today, loved ones will gather in a country church in the woods to remember a mother, daughter, sister and friend. Her little boy is an orphan. Friends are devastated. A community is in shock.

Things like this don’t happen here.

There’s a lot I’d like to say here. I would like to tell you about the failures of our justice system for not doing enough to stop domestic violence or about the complacency of regular people because we think it isn’t our place to get involved in a family matter and how we talk about these things as though it’s something to be kept secret. I would like to gripe about the concept of a restraining order, a document that’s not even worth the paper it’s printed on when someone is crazy and mean enough to want you dead.

But standing on my soap box won’t change anything.

There’s no way to change what has happened. Her parents will bury their daughter today. Her child will spend a lifetime without an amazing mother because of something his father did. No matter what we say, the world will be a darker place without our friend.

Natalie was a bright, happy person who took a sincere interest in everyone around her. You got the impression that she was thrilled to see you and never had a harsh word but instead always had a kind word or compliment.

She exuded true kindness and literally lit up a room. She had an energy about her that I only wish I could capture. And she had no idea how special she was.

When someone dies after an extended illness we like to point out they aren’t suffering anymore. When they’re very old, they had a long life and are in a better place.

There’s nothing to say here. I have nothing. She was 35, vibrant and kind – the sort of person we should all aspire to be.

Everywhere I go, people are talking about it, they’re tearful, they’re upset. They’re confused, angry and numb. All of us are struggling in our own way.

If you think that this sort of thing won’t happen to you or doesn’t involve you, think again. Domestic violence threatens us all. Your neighbor could be in danger. Your child or friend could be suffering and you may not even know it.

Have you ever wondered why a woman doesn’t just leave? This is why. Because it’s hard and it’s dangerous. Because women die when they have done nothing wrong. Because there are people out there who would rather kill the one they say they love than allow them to be free.

My heart is tired, friends.

I cannot fathom how her close friends and family are suffering today. And I can’t understand how someone could behave viciously toward the person they say they love.

Sadly, she isn’t the first person to be victim to this kind of senseless cruelty and she won’t be the last. Many of you reading probably at least know of similar stories.

My apologies for this sad and rambling story today. It isn’t nearly so fun as an adventure but life can’t always be fun. Sometimes it’s a confusing, tragic, horrifying place.

Make the best of today. Tomorrow is not promised.