On one such day we all gathered around her at the piano to sing. We happily belted out song after song until it was time to leave. As we all headed to lunch, Amy pulled me aside. I was nervous about being singled out and was concerned I had done something wrong.
"I just wanted to tell you that you have a beautiful voice," she said to me, "so keep singing." I remember just staring up at her, my idol, the young woman I wanted so much to be like someday, and being completely at a loss for words. I had always liked to sing - it had always been a part of my life - but this person was telling me that I was good at it and was encouraging me to make sure to nurture that talent.
A feeling washed over me - a feeling I had never felt before. I was so honored and proud to hear those words of encouragement from her, and yet also somewhat overwhelmed. At a time when I was starting to feel the awkward insecurities of my pre-teen years, those words meant so much to me, and I found myself getting choked up from the emotion of it all.
I walked back towards my friends with tears streaming down my cheeks. They saw my tears and asked with concern why I was crying, and I shrugged because I didn't know. They asked if I was sad, and I found myself laughing through my tears and telling them that I was pretty sure I was crying because I was happy.
I never saw Amy again after that summer. And I never became a professional singer. But I did carry with me the memory of how significant it was to be reminded of talents and strengths that I didn't even know existed.
This morning I received an email appreciating me for my honesty and caring and willingness to speak and act openly when many others do not. These are traits that are so a part of me that, like singing, I forget sometimes that they are strengths. The email spoke of the beauty that comes from making oneself vulnerable and the rewards that can come from being open to possibility, and as I read it I found myself full of that same mysterious feeling I felt 19 summers ago, with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart. Full of gratitude for all that is good in this world, and for the people who help me remember to appreciate it all, I share this with you now: