Pineapple House Rules

Rule #13: God is good in all things.

Lilly-and-Jim-Tamaya

This picture embodies the meaning behind Pineapple House Rules: love, resilience, and joy. I felt that today would be the perfect day to reintroduce what Pineapple House Rules stands for. We lost my brother, Jimmy, 5 years ago today in a motorcycle accident. We lost my dad 3 years before to cancer. Even in the midst of those darkest, heaviest times, we saw light. We saw the love and compassion in those who dropped everything to be there to comfort us. I don’t have enough space in a single Instagram post to convey how absolutely wrapped in God’s love we were on both of those days. The Pineapple embodies finding the good in all things, even when it seems there is none to be found.

The Pineapple became a symbol for our family after my aunt called me the day Jimmy died and asked how I was doing. She said, “What am I saying? I know how you’re doing.” I said, “You could’ve said the word, ‘Pineapple,’ and I’d know you’re just sending your love.” So, anytime we didn’t know what to say because our grief had overtaken us, we’d say, “Pineapple.” I mean really, what do you say when someone is going through the depths of grief?

I think it’s best on days like today to share good stories about those we love. My favorite Jimmy story (and the one that I think tells his true character) is the story of The Elephant in the Room. I was 21 and a brand new middle school teacher. I was teaching 8th grade, and Jimmy was in 9th. I had an absolutely awful day (first year teaching ain’t for the faint of heart… or teaching in general for that matter). I called my Dad to vent, and he calmly said, “Okay, Lil. Why don’t you go pick up some meat, and I’ll grill burgers.” Great! I run to the store, grab the meat, and head over. Daddy goes to form the burgers and the meat has already gone bad. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I lost it.

So, in typical Daddy fashion, he hands me some money and sends me and Jimbo to get barbeque. We head to the restaurant around the corner, I order the food, and we sit together and talk while we wait. Jimmy was only 14, but in that small conversation, he had the wisdom of someone 50 years older. He patiently listened to all my (very petty) complaints. Then, he quietly said, “Well, Lil, you just can’t help but call out the elephant in the room.” Never had anyone described my personality so poignantly.

The point isn’t that he had such a perfect response to my sappy story. The point is that even as a freshman in high school, Jimmy knew how to be that compassionate person. He was, until his last act, the most loyal of friends. He loved his people fiercely and in his own way. He never left a friend stranded or lonely. At his memorial service, we played “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story. It’s the perfect song to describe our Jimbo, and it’s still my ringtone to this day.

So, hug your people tight. Find the joy and beauty in every day, even those darkest of days.

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