Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Coffee is a Love Language

Love is expressed in countless ways- hugs, cards, words, acts of service, time spent together, gifts, etc. My friend, Karen, has said that coffee is also a love language. Having been in the coffee industry for 7 years, I would agree with her. 
 In my time serving coffee, I have encountered the expression of love through coffee on many occasions. Over the next couple of weeks, I  will share with you just how I've seen this take place.

                                         Coffee is a Love Language
                                           Part 1. The Motherless Daughters

  In March 2011, I lost my mom to cancer. During this time, I felt so very alone. I knew some women who had lost their mom, but they were all older, and for me, I felt the experience was different because I felt far too young to be saying goodbye to my mom. I felt like I had so much life ahead of me still and I needed my mom to be there. I had become a "motherless daughter" , so to speak. At age 28, I was not ready to say goodbye to my mom at all. And that hole felt scary and alone because I knew no one of my age to have walked through that who could help me understand how to get through it myself.  
   At first, in many ways, I remained quiet about my pain, because I did not think I'd find anyone who could understand it. But, I am a barista. And barista's are chatty, and little by little, the story began to unfold.  As my heart opened up, little by little, God also brought me other "motherless daughters". Those who had also walked the same journey I was having to experience. Some were my age; some were a bit older; and some others even older still. 
  We bonded because of coffee. Coffee became a place to express our stories about our moms. Coffee became our connecting factor. If it hadn't been for coffee, I may not have ever met these women who began to help me through my journey of learning how to cope without my mom. Coffee became an expression of love- sometimes through their visits to me for their own cup, and other times even for a time to meet outside of work and give me a place to talk about my grief and my own mom. 
  I came to know these women as friends. We are the motherless daughters, I say. It's a unique bond, difficult to explain until you have yourself experienced it. There are men who've lost a father, or a mother, too, but the bond between a mother and daughter is different, I believe, and thus, the grief journey is different too. These women each helped me in a unique way.
  The first I remember meeting was actually 2 women at the same time. These ladies came down for coffee the same time every day. They got the same drink every day. I'd have it ready for them as they would approach, even. They laughed a lot, and their laughter was contagious. I admired the friendship they shared. I listened as they would talk and share and I noticed how they always were smiling. When I met them was a time I was craving some great female friends. I can't recall how the conversation came to be between us about my having lost my mom. But I do remember that upon my uncovering of that detail, I met these 2 women who were also motherless daughters. These 2 women became a solid place to share.  Their stories were different, but the bond was the same: they, too, were motherless daughters. These women were the first I'd met near my age, to have walked the journey. They became some of my first motherless daughter friends to help me understand how to get through the time. Teresa helped me by giving me cards on days she knew would be hard, gifts she knew would help me walk through my time of grief and remember my mom, and she always had a hug to offer, especially on days I was struggling. She listened and helped me simply by giving me a place to talk and cry. She was the first who I ever shared pictures of my mom with. Teresa has become a life long friend. Angie shared stories about her time of losing her mom, about what the journey was like. She had moved through years of not having her mom already, but still understood the pain it brings. Angie helped reassure me that my emotions were normal and okay. Both ladies became a big part of what would become the 5K in memory of my mom; both ladies have been to every one we've held. Both ladies have become a part of helping my healing. Part of the motherless daughters I came to know.
     Brenda became another motherless daughter friend. Again, I have no idea how our conversation evolved, but she came to share with me, she , too, had lost her mom, at a younger age than I , even. Brenda became one who would allow me to share my story; who would not talk over mine to share hers (in fact, she likely knows more of mine than I of hers). But she understood the difficulty of being a mom without a mom to go to, and she has often allowed me to share that frustration. She understood the bittersweetness of mother's day, but encouraged me to enjoy mine while still remembering my mom. She never pushed the conversation, but always made it known she was there if I wanted to have it. Brenda also has come out to support the 5K, understanding why I do it. 
     As time passed, the grief changed. The pain of being a motherless daughter is still there, but it goes through phases and changes and looks different. As time has passed, I have been able to grow and become one who now understand the pain and can help other motherless daughters.
     I met *Elizabeth over coffee as well. I can recall how our conversation happened. We were talking about Peace Lillies. I had been given one when mom died, and I was trying so hard to keep it alive. I did not want to let it go, even though I knew it, in itself, held no direct connection to my mom. But letting it die seemed like letting a last piece of mom go somehow. Anyway, Elizabeth also had one. As I heard her talking about it, I shared how I had one after mom died and I was trying to keep it alive. She then shared that her mom had just passed away, which was why she had one. That moment became another connecting moment between 2 motherless daughters. Only this time, it wasn't my pain that was the freshest. Elizabeth and I connected that moment in a way you just don't find. We bonded over having lost our moms. No words were really needed in that moment. Shared eye contact spoke the volume of understanding and the depth of grief that no card, word or dictionary could do justice. In that moment, the 2 of us became friends. To this day, often times our conversation will come around to our moms in one fashion or another. We both have pre teen daughters, and not having mom at this time is a challenge. We have each other to lean on.  
    The most recent is *J.  J came to me in her moment of desperation in finding out her mom was dying. She came to me because I have become so open about my journey and grief and she knew I had walked the path she was about to tread. She asked questions and she shared. I cried nearly every time after talking with her because I understood exactly what she was going through. I was a motherless daughter and she was about to become one. J and I bonded in a new way. J's mom passed quickly, not even a few weeks after our initial conversation about it. Her grief is still quite new and fresh, and many hugs and unspoken words are shared at this time. 
      Lastly, I include my friend Karen. For Karen, many years have passed since her mom's passing. You will find many stories of Karen throughout this time of recollection because Karen has become a quiet, but yet highly valuable friend in my life. But Karen is also a "motherless daughter". Karen and I certainly found our bond because of coffee. Karen is not old enough to be my mom by any means, but she is old enough to have walked the journey of raising kids and not having her mom at this point. Karen has hugged me on days I simply say "I'm missing mom." She has quietly listened to all my stories. She has hugely supported my ambitions and endeavors. She has been one of my biggest encouragers. Our initial bond did not form because we are motherless daughters, but that story came out not long after we knew each other because Karen became a place of trust for me.  She in no way replaces my mom, but she has often offered simple encouragements my mom would have offered, without her even knowing she did so. 

  I became a motherless daughter in 2011. And at a time when the journey felt so alone, I actually came to find many women who also had walked the same path. And now I also can be a woman to lend encouragement to those who have to walk it themselves. All of these women and I met because of  a love for coffee. So you see, Coffee is a Love language in and of itself. A place of comfort. A time to share. An open door to bond in unspoken ways. Were it not for coffee, I may never have met those beautiful women. The motherless daughters, I say. It's not what defines any of them or even myself, but because we shared the bond of coffee, we also came to share the bond of understanding each other in ways not quite understandable to others....  Coffee is a Love Language.

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