Because the next thing I knew, there I was. Sitting in a comfortable chair in her den, spilling my secrets, sipping lemonade. She gave me the supreme gift of her attention. She listened. She never cut me off or made light of my troubles. She laughed at my humor. She asked questions. She shared stories about her own adolescence and teenage years and even allowed me a peek into her adult life and how she was balancing her marriage and motherhood.
Jan Brown saved my life. Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but on a fundamental level, she saved me from my overwrought and self-absorbed high school self. A self that during a time of intense confusion and self-loathing, desperately needed saving. Jan was there. She was allowed access to a landscape of teenage angst forbidden to my own mother.
Jan made me feel special, chosen–something we all desire, deep down.
I can conjure quite vividly those conversations, sitting at her table or in that aforementioned den, and although I can’t always remember exactly what was shared, I do remember feeling utter acceptance and understanding. I remember leaving and making the walk back down to my own house, feeling somehow normal, more at peace. No small thing for an overweight, muddled teenager.
Studies indicate, time and again, how having a strong adult influence (just one) outside of parents can make all the difference in a young life.
Jan Brown was my strong adult influence.
But she was so much more than that. She believed in me during a time that I was mostly incapable of believing in myself. She saw something I was unable to see.
Jan Brown loved me.
For that, I am so very grateful.
Thank you, Jan, for having such a profound impact on my life. Thank you for imprinting on me the notion that I am beautiful and worthy of love. Thank you for seeing my strength, hidden beneath my layers of doubt.
Thank you for the extraordinary gift you gave of yourself.
I will miss you, every day.