Strength of Sloan
"Who am I to tell you not to live your dream, go live your dream." -Curt Sloan
These were words said to me by a man I considered a father ; spoken the day before he died suddenly.
I was asked to take over his position so he could retire, following his dream of travelling the country with the love of his life, Helen.
While I was flattered, I had my own dreams of pursuing a simple life with my husband in the mountains of Montana.
We had just returned home from an emotional unwinding, cleaning out my deceased grandmothers home on the side of a cliff in Somers, Montana.
It had only been a month since losing our baby when my Nana died suddenly, her car crashing into a cliff.
Her last words to me prior to her death still stinging my soul,
"If you don't stop being angry that your baby died, you will NEVER get pregnant!"
Stuck in my grief, my husband kept asking if I'd talked to my Nana yet.
"You really should call her back, I'm sure she didn't mean anything by it."
I had finally felt strong enough to give her a call. I was on my commute into the office when I dialed, realizing I had her Mexican phone number, I decided my call could wait.
An hour after arriving at the office my dad came in frazzled,
"Honie your grandmother died in a car crash, she ran her car into a cliff."
She was on her way to pick up a computer my husband had told her to purchase. This revelation laying guilt upon his shoulders.
Knowing my call would have caught her before she walked out the door, a pit fell upon my stomach, why had I not searched for her Montana number? The baggage of guilt I would carry.
In death questions always linger, the 'What if...'
A coping mechanism to distract us from the finality of death? Maybe. Either way, grief is messy. No body gets through it clean.
My dad not able to face the mess of her home, my new husband and I ventured to Montana, meeting my Aunt Lisa and Chuck to take possession of her body, clean out her home and mourn.
The blood smeared on the windshield of her car, her new swimsuits still in a shipping box in that shattered Subaru. Picking out the urn, carrying her home in the front seat of our car next to a bag of her blood stained final possessions. All pieces of death no body wants to discuss, the tragedy, the humanity we all face.
It was that trip we would stumble upon our dream home in Kalispell, Montana. A 'For Sale by Owner' sign staked in the yard, we ventured up the steep driveway.
The owners were cooking bacon on the deck.
"Come in, come in! Would you like some bacon?"
They were ready to leave the cold winters and escape to their goat farm in Texas, 'you seem like a nice couple, name your price.' they told us.
A day later we would submit an offer within our budget, they accepted.
This is how I would find myself in that blue office chair, sitting across from a man I considered a father.
The man who was the calm to my storm. Curt's home being a safe place in my often tumultuous childhood. The man who remained a constant despite the upheaval of my family.
I've been told Curt and Helen were the only thing my parents could agree upon, they were trusted.
Miraculously, they were the few that remained friends with both of my parents during the great divorce. Helen remaining my mothers best friend to this day and Curt being my dads.
Two dramatically different individuals – the Ying to my dads Yang, his childhood bestfriend, his business partner, his first call in times of trouble, the man who would stand-up next to him at his wedding.
When he died, a hole was left, forcing me to lean into strength I didn't know I had. That year would be one filled with great mountains and deep valleys. 'We would come out stronger, living a life of beauty and peace, the grief diming, but becoming part of who we are.
When looking for names for our baby, our top girl names ended up being used by people in our life. Coming down to the final weeks of my pregnancy, we had decided on naming her Sloane in honor of the man I had found my strength.
The name meaning 'STRENGTH' made it seem like perfection but when we were once again questioned, weeping I drove to my good friends home.
After spending time in prayer she asked, 'What is your daughters name?'
My eyes popping open, "where did THAT come from?"
We both laughed, looking up the meaning. I drove home, still attached to the idea of Sloane, of giving my daughter a name of STRENGTH.
It was God who whispered as I pulled into my driveway, maybe you don’t always need to be strong - maybe you can just enjoy the beauty, the loveliness that is this gift of Lorelai.
When she came out having what appeared to be a tough time breathing, I panicked,
“She’s SLOANE, she needs to be strong!”
My husband looking back from the warmer, she is perfect, she is simply Lovely.