Last week I wrote about the joy of realizing that I’ve shown up as ME in the newsroom. This week I got another glimpse into how true that is.
Those of you who have been reading know that last week was difficult and emotional. The final task that I had to perform before the weekend was attending Melissa Jenkins’ memorial service. I was going to write two pieces about it: one for the newspaper and one for St. Johnsbury Academy, the school I do freelance writing for and where Melissa worked.
I got there early to get a seat near the front so my voice recorder would pick up everything. I had been reminded multiple times through the day that this was the piece Melissa’s family would clip and save for her son, and I wanted to make sure that I got it right.
The first couple of rows were marked as reserved for family, but the row I was in was not. A few minutes after I sat down, the headmaster came over and asked that I make sure only family members sat in the four empty seats next to me.
A few minutes later, a small group came over and a women asked if the seats were filled. I asked if they were family members. The woman seemed offended and stormed away without saying anything else to me. A few minutes later the four seats were filled.
When I got to the newsroom yesterday, my editor said that he’d gotten a call from someone who was very upset at my rude behavior at the memorial service. It took me a few moments to figure out what he was talking about because the holding of the seats didn’t have a prominent place in my memory.
A little while later, I got a voice mail from my contact at the school, who had apparently also gotten an upset phone call about my rude behavior. He said that he knew it was an emotionally charged situation and he didn’t know what had happened, but he was sure I hadn’t meant anything by it. He said that he would speak with me, but…the Leah Carey he knows wouldn’t have been intentionally rude.
Wow. I’m honored and humbled that I show up clearly and cleanly enough that both of these men – who interact with me in very different ways and different situations – know me to be a person of integrity and kindness. They both were willing to stand up for my character.
I know it’s a little thing on their parts, but it means the world to me.
I don’t want to diminish the pain that Melissa’s family is in – I understand that their upset is so huge that it’s looking for any vent and I was in the right place at the right time. I’ve been in their shoes. I’m okay with it.
And I’m grateful because it showed me yet again that when I show up fully as myself, I receive the respect of people who I respect tremendously. Now THAT’S a miracle!