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pat, i'd like to buy a vowel

We’re throwing it back.

To 5th grade graduation.

Not our 5th grade graduation, our kids’ 5th grade graduation.

Because nowadays we effusively celebrate things like finishing elementary school.


Laura teams up with Robyn and Dawn (memory alert: they’re our LARD knitting buds) and the three crush the kids’ post-5th grade celebration. Afterwards, this happens.


Robyn-Dawn-Laura text string.

D: can’t believe it’s all over

L: at least you still have a kid in elementary school (this was pre-Brene Brown when we learned about ‘at least’)

D: true, but there won’t be another RDL

L: wait

L: RDL is not over

R: hell no

R: let’s go on an outing!


And so, the RDL outings were born (yes, that’s the clever group text name they came up with). It’s fun to plan things and have them to look forward to. It’s fun to get together even without a 5th grade graduation.


Until the outings become so enviable that people try to get in on the fun. And by people, we mean Angie.


Laura-Angie-Robyn-Dawn text string.

A: hi

A: so fun to run into you girls today at chihuly

A: i love that you plan outings

A: can i come on the next one?

A: like make a guest appearance?

R: yes!

D: sure

L: do we need to vote?

R: let’s vote after the outing

D: after we see how she does

A: you guys know i’m on this text string right?


RDL + Angie head to the city to see a show.


Car ride conversation into NYC.

L: so when are we telling angie that she’s paying for lunch?

R: and the show?

R: bc that’s what we do with newbies

D: and that she has to park the car

D: and drop us off right in front of the theater

A: hello?

A: i’m right here

RDL: haha

D: angie, you up for all that?

A: wait, are you guys hazing me?

L: um

L: yes

L: we are

L: it’s so fun to have a pledge


So we go to see Tiny Beautiful Things at the Public Theater, Cheryl Strayed’s book adapted for the stage. It’s a series of vignettes from her Dear Sugar column (think modern-day version of Dear Abby). It’s intense. It’s heavy. It’s about everything from insatiable jealousy to dealing with empty-nest syndrome to how to move on after unimaginable grief and loss. Intense and heavy for sure, but cathartic too.


We leave the theater filled with emotion. Yet somehow Laura still has the wherewithal to suggest we choose our favorite vignette and be ready to discuss when we arrive at our post-game coffee spot.


And here’s the one that touched us the most. The one we couldn’t move on from. The one we didn’t want to move on from. The one that still shouts the loudest.


A woman writes to Dear Sugar after losing her baby, feeling all alone in her sadness and shame. She’s unable to move past her pain. She calls herself Stuck. Dear Sugar tells Stuck that she must find her tribe, that she needs a community that fully and completely gets it, that she must search for the ones with the same shared experience. She explains that other well-meaning friends and family are just that, well-meaning. That they can’t truly understand how she’s feeling the same way as her tribe can understand. And that it’s because “They live on Planet Earth. You live on Planet My Baby Died.


Dear Sugar then describes to Stuck that when something truly awful happens, it will always be there. There’s just no getting around that. Yet somehow, almost imperceptibly, she empowers Stuck with her brutal honesty. Here’s exactly how she says it, because there is no way that our paraphrasing would do this sentiment justice.


You will never stop loving your daughter. You will never forget her. You will always know her name. But she will always be dead. Nobody can intervene and make that right and nobody will. Nobody can take it back with silence or push it away with words. Nobody will protect you from your suffering.”


And Dear Sugar continued.


“You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it…. Therapists and friends and other people who live on Planet My Baby Died can help you along the way, but the healing—the genuine healing, the actual real deal down-on-your-knees-in-the-mud change—is entirely and absolutely up to you.” Whoa.


And just like that, our light day in the city turned into something heavy. Something unforgettable. Something that made us think about our own lives and the tribes we’ve found and the tribes we haven’t. And the hard stuff we’ve been able to accept and navigate and the hard stuff that still sits inside us waiting to be accepted and navigated.


Next day debrief.

A: i loved the show

D: me too

R: i can’t stop thinking about it

L: what are you guys thinking about most?

D: the tribes

D: and how there are so many tribes out there

D: like the tribe of moms of only boys

D: and the tribe of people in marriages with different religions

L: one of my tribes

L: is my facebook group with type 1 parents

L: i never really thought of it as a tribe

L: because i don’t even know the people on it

L: and i almost never comment

L: but i like to read what they have to say

L: and hear what they’re going through

L: i guess that’s what Sugar means when she said it would make Stuck not feel alone


And so, just like that, the tribe floodgates open.


R: i love meeting other parents of adopted kids

R: they’re my tribe

R: bc of that familiarity

R: and unspoken understanding

D: angie, when i took that bar method class

D: the kathy o tribute class

D: it kinda felt like u guys, all the people who knew and loved her, were a tribe


Kathy O’Brien was a beloved Bar Method instructor who died of lung cancer. Each year since, the Bar Method in Summit honors her memory with a tribute class and donates all of the proceeds to Lungevity.


A: oh dawn, you’re so right

A: i never thought of us like a tribe

A: but we so are

A: i guess we’re the tribe who lost a friend way too soon

A: lucky part is

A: my tribe learned so many lessons from her before she died

A: and one of my favorites

A: is when she told me that ‘how are you?’ is the worst thing to ask someone with terminal cancer

A: bc how do we think she is?

A: how can someone who is dying answer that?

A: so she taught me to say ‘how are you, today?’ instead

A: and i’ve never forgotten it

A: somehow the word today changes everything


Text string later that evening.

A: so RDL, i have to ask

A: can i come on the next outing?

A: i mean, c’mon

A: you girls need a vowel

R: wait

R: does that mean our name is gonna be LARD?

D: no way

D: we can’t have that for our name

L: i think it’s perfect

L: LARD it is

L: A, you’re in

L: but just because we needed a vowel


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And since we’re rookies, we’ll cover our asses and give credit where credit is due:

Italicized language taken from Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed.



LARD in action.

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