Priceless People


You are priceless. Yes, you. Now, I realize there’s a weird factor here as it’s rather likely I’ve never met you before. At the beginning of February, I might have felt awkward right now and you would have been glad for the cyber wall that keeps me from seeing your flustered, scarlet face. Well, this is March. And, in the absence of awkward, I’ll say it again: You are priceless.

If my subtlety superpower is working correctly this morning, my dear reader should be wondering what big change the whirlwind 28 days of February could bring. What has made me so direct? What’s made me so sure of the value of a stranger?

People made the difference this month. Not just any difference, but THE difference. If you’ll sit tight and walk through my weekends with me, you’ll know exactly why.

The first of February, which already seems like a lifetime or two or ten ago, brought me to Chicago in an absolute flurry of anxiety and snow. Joe Looman, a steadfast friend and a Youth Choir brother from summers past, drove me 8 hours to the windy city. Granted, he had his charming Maggie along for the ride, but no person less than priceless could have put up with my flustered harmonizing with the radio and napping in the backseat. Priceless person #1.

Eight hours later, the eagle had landed at the Indigo Hotel. It was some wee hour of the morning, and in another wee hour I would be flying back out the door dressed head to toe in anxiety. Colleen, mother of the Navy graduate we had trekked so far to see, and I arrived at the ceremony with the rumor that our Sailor Nieves may not have passed. FALSE. I left arm-in-arm with a man from a Hall of Fame division. A man who had a depth, a purpose, and a perspective that was altogether new.

We were those people, from that point on, who spent a weekend in famous city… NOT in the city. Retreating to our nest in the Indigo Hotel, we bantered, we celebrated, we treasured time and the people we shared it with. When it was time to go? A 5-hour delay for his flight (more time!). And a flight attendant who brought him to the boarding window for one last salute, and then upgraded our Sailor to first class. Colleen, my sailor, and a stranger with a heart of gold. All priceless people.

If that weekend seemed like a whirlwind to you – it seems more like a dream to me – consider the scene two weeks later. 180 singers flooding one Coshocton high school for two days, bringing dozens of songs back to life in just a handful of hours. It was a hugging reboot with a soundtrack. And who was there? Yes, aren’t you smart: A whole bunch of priceless people. Old friends from each and every nook and cranny of the state, all with a set of stories to tell. I didn’t realize until that weekend exactly how hug-deprived I had been until the overflow nearly melted me. Clean-up in aisle 7.

Wait, hold that thought. If there was one thing worth staying solid for, I found it in a half a heartbeat. Flinging my arms around that worldly hipster I call a (bearded!) brother and my princess-haired, glowing sister from the Virginian realm was electrifying. Then to pull my mom close and feel that same inspiration she radiates across the miles warm me back to breathing in her nearness… matchless. To bury my face in my dad’s chest and remember our walks and our star talks, and the letters he pens in the old snail-mail way… unrivaled. These families, the Youth Choir and the kin, are priceless.

I know, I know. I’m rambling. You likely had your own share weekend adventures and your own set of priceless people. Let me ask you this, do they know? Did you, my priceless friend or my priceless stranger, tell them at least once that the role they play in your life is irreplaceable? If you could not find the words, I hope you helped them to feel it.

The state of bliss that I felt when I took a step back to consider my future in my last confession has been trumped tenfold. And that’s something, like a blue sky in a very grey February, that just can’t go ignored. There is a gratefulness in my heart that defies even my greatest attempts as a wordsmith. For all the impossibilities made real by people like Joe and Colleen, for all the warmth and inspiration of my family, for all the doors held by strangers and – of course – for the relief of a hug. You set me in awe.

One upon a time, I told myself that I would set out alone. I would discover myself with nobody but myself as a lifeline. How else could I be sure that all I chose to do with my life was true to ME at its heart?

What I realize now, is that I am my best self when I have people to treasure who treasure me (and better still, inspire me!). Even greater are the people who disagree with me and force me to reconsider what I “know.” I might stay steadfast, but that second consideration of things calms my doubts even if it doesn’t dissolve theirs.

My life is only true to ME when I am true to others. When I am willing to accept the constant give-and-take of community – of family – the depth of my bliss multiplies. It reflects back to me the advice and support of wonderful individuals.

I thank God for the gifts I was given this month in the infinite currency of friendship. There are some people I will never be able to repay.

People are priceless. Head to toe.

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