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March 19, 2019

Lean On Me

by J.P.

Now some time has passed and I’m still processing everything that happened. I’ve lost family members before, but losing Ronnie was different. He was a big part of my life. To see someone everyday and then just not was extraordinarily traumatic for me. After a whole week I thought I was ready to move on. I was feeling better when all of a sudden I felt the sadness and weight of reality on me again. It sucks losing Ronnie, but I’ve learned some powerful life lessons because of him. I’m choosing to do something with it that will be more beneficial to this team and to myself in the long run. I need to learn how to appreciate life a little more deeply and how not to harbor ill-feelings towards others, especially my teammates.

The following week after Ronnie’s passing I didn’t sleep well the whole week. The night I finally did, I didn’t feel at all like getting up that morning. I felt completely exhausted. Well it’s as if Country knew I need a little encouragement. As I lay there, not wanting to face life, half-awake, feeling like what’s the point, he got up on my bunk and laid his big’ol Country bumkin on me. As if saying “let’s go” and “I’m here for you”. He’s been a lot more affectionate and aware of me. I know he can feel the heartbreak I’m carrying around. He’s been leaning on me like crazy. I don’t know if it’s that he’s finally accepted me on that level or if I’ve accepted what New Life is all about, all of it. He’s definitely been more emotionally responsive and there for me through this trying time. I find myself reaching for his reassuring touch, acceptance, and warmth more and more. I’m learning how to lean on someone else for support…and that’s been Country. After 16 years of learning how to live alone and hold things on my own, Country’s teaching me that I do deserve to look and reach out for help. Country is there for me. I feel it…

I worked on taking clothes and gloves on with the first New Life Service Bear shapes and colors. He’s still jumping and pulling on the leash when he wants to get somewhere. I’ve been working on it and he’s still having some trouble, but I can see where consistency will play a part. There’s been some build up in team communication, coupled with the Graduation and Ronnie's death, the stress level for the team was immense. There has been some discord. I’m always aware of this old adage “Be the change you want to see in the world”. I can see where being paired up with someone who acts, thinks, and feels differently can help us build new skills. Me, Greg, Tony and Dennis started a conversation last night about communication, harboring feelings, and not productively dealing with it. It was really enlightening and brings to me a separate goal, a different calling.

Country, Roofus, Jett, Noland, Dani, Bravo, and Moose aren’t the only ones who need me. Greg needs me. Rob needs me. Aaron needs me. Dave needs me. Dennis needs me. Kevin needs me. And the new guys will need me. I can see where I play a part in each rehabilitation and positive change. But most importantly, I need them all. I meant it when I said I’m going to take the loss of Ronnie as something that will motivate me to be there in every way that I can for my teammates. My brothers. New Life.

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