Have you ever taken a moment to think about how honestly you are living your life? Honesty is one of those qualities we prize so very highly, and yet we spend a great deal of time in the midst of simple deceptions, little white lies, to ourselves, about our own lives. Often we couch these deceipts in the premise of living with positivity, other times we say we will "fake it til we make it." In all of those cases, the only person being truly deceived is yourself. It can lead to staying in a job you hate, to maintaining a toxic relationship and even to hiding issues with your mental health. So, what would you do to be more honest? How honest are you prepared to be? For the past several days I have witnessed someone very brave be very honest. Every day she records a video on Facebook, talking about how she is doing, opening herself up to the world, all so she can help people understand what it is like to live with depression. As someone who lives with the same thing I knew I had to meet her, to connect.
Heather McKeon is incredibly warm. Sitting across from her reminds me of the fall sun in my home Missouri, where the cold winds would blow in the shade, until you walked into the sunlight and felt that amazing warmth. Like an embrace from an old friend. Her smile is pure and frankly amazing. You cannot help but feel special and loved sitting across from her. When we meet outside of Sojourn Coffee we embrace for what seems like entirely too short a time. i could probably live in one of her hugs. She is just that presence, as though home could be a person, and perhaps if you are lucky to have a place in her heart it truly is.
Spending time with Heather, it becomes clear very quickly that she is incredibly brave. I am lucky enough that she has trusted me with some of the treasures of her life, and I can tell you her path has been hard, but it has clearly taught her to love, and to be incredibly brave. I am amazed at how she takes to social media every day and talks about how she is doing, reaches out to people as someone who understands and will be there. More importantly she is vulnerable. We often fear vulnerability because we can be hurt. Maybe it is why we build social media highlight reels of our lives, to showcase how wonderful everything is. It is equally why we are surprised when a light is snuffed out to depression or other issues, because we never saw it coming through the glitz. In one of her videos, Heather tells people to reach out to her if they are just having a tough time, a bad day, with the voice of someone who knows just what the bottom of your own private pit looks like. I have had the gift to meet some incredibly brave people in my time, those who would make Superman blush, and I will tell you that Heather McKeon numbers among some of the bravest souls I have ever known.
Out conversation is wonderful, the time passes in a quick blur, the type which comes when two hearts are able to connect and bond over joy and sorrow. We talk of loving and losing, of adventures and adopting a new home. We talk of echo stones and sunset walks, of tears and broken Coke bottles. It is the type of talk that kindred hearts have burning every second of a quarter in a late night payphone, with every sense that, should we not wake in the morning, we will not feel like we missed anything. Heather and I talk about the relativity of pain, about how a heart only knows the depth of pain it has experienced and how that means anything can break a heart. Our eyes lock in a mutual understanding that the heart is the greatest treasure, but so easily broken.
We talk of broken things, and how the light through broken glass forms dancing prisms on the wall. I tell her that the things I can see in people, the beauty I find in all of them, comes from the fact that I have been so broken so many times. Heather and I talk of broken things and beauty, of how the two are not mutually exclusive, and how the people who are so "broken" are so much more beautiful.
The day creeps ever forward, as it is so prone to do, and we find our time coming to a close. I constantly reflect on how we, as people, can see the world through our own eyes, yet not see ourselves in it. I wonder if Heather sees how beautiful and brave she really is, if she knows how bright her heart actually shines. It's hard to keep promises when you struggle with some of these issues and yet I will try my damndest to reach out to Heather next time things get too hard. It does not take a poet to know she loves nor a soldier to know she is brave, it just takes a moment sitting across from her to realize she is bound for greatness because at the core is love.
Favorite Dinosaur: Brontosaurus
Why: She loved Littlefoot from The Land Before Time because he was always helping and not attacking anyone. Later she read that they weren't real and figured they must have been something really special to be created like they were.