The show Parenthood will rock your world in the most beautiful ways. Sometimes I think that they watched my life just to get some writing material. It resonates with so many people because so many people's lives actually look like this. Although, some people can't watch it because it will make you feel all the feels, and people have enough of that going on in the real world. 

There were a few scenes where I wept like I was attending a funeral of a lost friend or sitting bedside next to my own dying grandmother. But one scene in particular sticks with me over the years.

I have tried quite unsuccessfully to find the clip, but I did find out that it's in Season 3, Episode 8 called "In-Between." Amber's alcoholic dad, Seth, leaves her a giant envelope filled with all the birthday cards from all the birthdays that he missed. Eighteen years of missed birthdays. As you can see in this picture below, Amber teaches us all how to do the ugly cry. Over the years, she teaches us a lot of other things, too, like how to screw up and pick all the wrong guys and then somehow turn out better than okay.

Maybe I wept because I've been there, I've felt the pain of all those missed birthdays. If it wasn't a birthday, it was a dance recital or an awards ceremony. Or, worse, it was watching my little brother's heartbreak from dad missing one of his big days.

Maybe I wept because the redemption is beautiful. Nobody wishes for a drunk dad to miss 18 birthdays, but seeing that heaping envelope reminded me that there's hope waiting years down the road. Sometimes when we ache so deeply for so long, we rise up from the ashes and we cry an ugly cry because we never expected our heart to flutter and dance to this kind of song.

The bitter part of me wants to tell Amber to stop celebrating and take a security guard stance to brace herself for the next heartbreaking moment. With every high there's a low in this roller coaster life of loving an addict.

But this isn't the way to love. The way to love is to stay in the moment and give thanks for the beautiful redemption. 

We’re all afraid. We just have to get to the point where we understand it doesn’t mean that we can’t also be brave.
— Dr. Brene Brown

Be honest about the fear that's bottled inside of you like an old aging wine. Wines that age over time develop a high flavor and multi-layered complexity. That flavor of fear has been brewing for years. And, yet, we can also choose to be brave.

Brave might not be accepting an envelope of missed birthday cards, but it might be telling a friend about that fear. Starting a new tradition for your birthday. Letting a friend remind you that miracles are still possible — and then actually believing it.


Hope might be waiting for you years down the road, and it will have a different flavor for everyone.

For Amber, her dad didn't stick around. He gave her the birthday cards and then left. He comes and goes throughout the seasons, their relationship taking many different turns. But in that one moment, Amber can accept the birthday cards and sink down deep into the ugly cry.