Acceptance

I recently received one of those phone calls you are never prepared for. It concerned a loved on and one word that drove other thoughts from my mind. I heard the phrase “. . . may have Cancer,” and nearly shut down. I suddenly felt as if I was barely grasping a flimsy handhold on a fast-moving train. I also oddly found myself thinking of my friend Terry and of a cookie I once thought he forced me to eat.

Terry is a great guy, but has an interesting personality and can take a little getting used to. He has is own style and is (mostly) comfortable in his own skin. He is also determined and stubborn as I discovered during a meal. I finished eating and remarked how much I liked the cookies that were prepared for dessert. This was my first mistake. My next mistake was saying aloud that I wished I had another. More precisely, it was saying that in earshot of Terry.

He left for a moment and returned to our table with several cookies. Including one for me.

“I got you a cookie,” he said.

“Wow, thanks, but I really don’t need to eat another. I already had one.”

“But you said you liked them.”

“I do like them, but I’m full.”

“You said you wanted another one.”

“Yes, I did say that, but I don;t. I guess my eyes were bigger than my stomach.”

“That’s not physically possible.”

“I know, but I thought I wanted another one, but I don’t.”

“But you said you did.”

“Chrisie, help me out here. Wait, why are you laughing?”

“Because it’s funny to watch you talk to someone who acts like you,” she said.

“Thanks for nothing. Terry, I appreciate you getting me a cookie. I do. But I really don’t want one. Thanks anyway though.”

“You want the cookie.”

“I really don’t.”

“Take the cookie!”

He thrust the cookie toward me and I leapt from the table. He chased me around the room for a bit. We had a good time as he shouted, “You want the cookie! Take the cookie!” and I replied “I will not take the cookie you cream faced loon!”

Great fun. At least it was until a couple of days later. I went to church Wednesday night. Terry was already there. When he saw me, a wicked grin spread across his face. From out of his jacket he pulled a cookie wrapped in plastic.

“You want the cookie.”

“I really don’t. Especially not now.”

“Take the cookie.”

“Is that actually the same cookie?”

“Of course it is, it’s the one you said you wanted.”

“This is ridiculous!” More chasing ensued until we were both out of breath.

This continued each time I saw him.

“Is that the same cookie?” Chrisie asked me one night after one of our chases.

“Yep.”

“Can’t you just take the cookie and end this?”

“Do you even know me?”

“Sorry, I forgot. Leighton Brown cannot lose. Carry on.”

“I’ll ignore your sarcasm.”

“I got it from you.” Fair point.

I thought it wouldn’t go on much longer. Christmas break was fast approaching and I just knew that would be the end of it.

We were sitting down for another shared meal when Terry entered the building. He walked over to me. He held a small Tupperware box. I stared at it in horror, afraid of what it contained. He opened the lid. It was exactly as I feared.

“You still want the cookie.”

“Have you seriously kept that for weeks just to offer it to me again?”

“Take the cookie!”

I jumped and he chased after me. We ran around the room again. No one, including us, thought it was funny anymore. He tripped and I took the opportunity to broaden my lead.

“Seriously?” Chrisie asked, annoyed.

“Yeah, I know.” I replied. I kept one eye on Terry who was across the room catching his breath.

“Why don’t you just take the cookie?”

“We’ve been over this, don’t you know me? Gotta run!” He almost caught me, but I bolted just in time. As I glanced back I saw Chrisie had one of her trademark stares trained on me. It was the one that said, yes, I do know you, but you also know me and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll end this. Now.

I slowed, then walked back toward Terry.

“Fine,” I said, “I’ll take the cookie.”

I snatched the stale, crumbling, and nearly inedible thing from his hand. I brought it to my lips, took a dry, tasteless bite, and swallowed it along with my pride. I barely stomached it, but I kept it down and quickly threw the rest away. Terry immediately acted normal and as if nothing strange had occurred.

I went back to the table. Chrisie looked at me.

“Are you done acting like a child now?”

“He started it!” I whined. She gave me another trademark stare. “Yes, yes I am.” I sat down and pretended to be an adult the rest of the evening.

Months later, Terry and I discussed the cookie incident. We (mostly) laughed about it.

“We both got a little carried away,” I said.

“No, I’m persistent.”

“Does persistent mean ‘crazy?’ Why did you make me eat the cookie anyway?”

“I didn’t make you eat the cookie.”

“Yes you did. You followed me around with the stupid thing for weeks. Nothing deterred you.”

“You didn’t have to eat the cookie.”

“Wait, what? I couldn’t get you to stop. You wouldn’t stop. What do you mean I didn’t have to eat the cookie?”

“You didn’t have to eat the cookie.”

“Then why did you chase me around?”

“You didn’t have to eat the cookie, you just had to accept the cookie. You could have just taken it and thrown it away.” I gaped open-mouthed at him. He was clearly serious. It was that simple all along. Both of us got carried away, but I over complicated it.

Which brings me back to the phone call. It contained many words, but I really only heard the one and had great difficulty processing it. Even without a true diagnosis (one of the words was “possibly” after all), I bounced from emotion to emotion. I was angry, sad, and helpless. I wanted the train to slow down. I wanted a better grip. I wanted many, many things. None of my thoughts or emotions were particularly helpful. Then I remembered the story I planned on writing as Terry and the Cookie.

I understood I could run from it all I wanted and never truly escape.  I realized I didn’t have to hold on to the train. I let go. I released the train, but not hope. I chose to accept, not give up. I may have taken life’s unwanted cookie, but I didn’t have to eat it.

© Leighton Brown and Stories Now Told, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Leighton Brown is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leighton Brown and Stories Now Told with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information, please see the Copyright page.
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About leighton

I could be considered a true Renaissance Man after having a long and storied (seriously, people actually tell stories about it) college experience and varied careers. I am also a shameless self-promoter (who did you think was writing this anyway?) who is prone to flights of fancy, an abundance of passion on any given subject, ,obsessive behavior, spontaneous storytelling (whether anyone listens or not), and making parenthetical references. I would also be thrilled if I heard someone use the word "raconteur" to describe me.
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3 Responses to Acceptance

  1. Barbara Brown says:

    Bless you!

  2. Terry says:

    Haha. Yeah, I remember those days. Also, if it’s any consolation, I haven’t chased someone around with something they clearly wanted for that long ever since then. 😛

  3. Diana McArthur says:

    I enjoy your stories.

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