When You Wake Up

There are some days that leave you aching. You wake up and you wonder if perhaps it’s worth simply going back to sleep, because to dream through this day would feel better than to live through the nightmare it feels like. On those days, sometimes, you get yourself out of bed and you face the day and you stumble to and from places. You drink a coffee and wonder if the caffeine would shake the dust from your mind and you have conversations that feel one sided, even though everyone involved speaks somehow.

Those are the days when you long for more, when you long to be known and heard and to simply sit. You long for a connection based on more than who you feel like that very day. You long for someone to remind you who you are, even on the days when you’re so very detached from that person.

There’s a man. His name is Matthew and he smiles every time we speak. He walks to me and tells me which train lines have track work, because Matthew spends his days on the train lines. I ask questions of him – I ask about Annette, a station manager who he found crying one day and decided to be friends with. I ask about which station he loves most. I ask where he’s been this week and where he’s going, and then some nights I sit by him during a chapel service and listen to his loud voice. He can sing. Man, can he sing. He can’t sing the words and he can’t hold a melody but the noise that comes from Matthew is such pure praise. He joins in with the chorus of those around him because he knows that he belongs here, among us.

Matthew has a learning disability that causes so many to write him off, to assume that his voice isn’t valuable and that he doesn’t matter. He’s collateral damage in a world of affluence, a necessary pitfall to a society of success. But Matthew is known, and in conversations with my friend Matthew, I feel known because in knowing Matthew, I get to know myself.

We surround ourselves with people. We have our friends and we have our families and we have those accidental acquaintances that just sort of happen,and as we know others, its then that we’re known. I’ve found that on days when I drag myself out of bed and would rather dream the day away, it’s friends like Matthew that matter most, because he reminds me that there is a world outside of the skin I’m in. There is more.

Matthew matters. He matters so much. You matter. Your tales of train trips and coffee spills and quiet c`onversations matter. I matter, too. When you drag yourself from bed and forsake those days of dreaming, facing the nightmare of the day ahead, you find that being awake isn’t so bad, because when we’re awake, our eyes wide open, we see what matters.

We matter. You and I and Matthew and all our stories collide on these pages of life. I’m so thankful for you. I’m so thankful for these collisions.

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