I remember so clearly what it felt like when we found out Luke’s heart stopped. I remember being so heart broken when my dad and I were first told Dee was diagnosed with Lung Cancer – Stage Four. I remember the viewing room where we had our last visit with my grandpa when I was ten, and the last time I saw him alive, though only barely. I remember when Casey (Dee’s family dog) died, when we lost our puppy Lily last September, when Cassy told me of heart worst heart break to that point in her life, when three of my grandparents died within a four month period. When we found out about Jonah’s anomalies and when he was born. For whatever reason, the most vivid memories I have are ones of loss. In most of them I could tell you details right down to what we were wearing or what the weather was like, and in some of them I can tell you the colors of the flowers or the smell in the room.
Looking back on all of these and some others, the things I cling to the hardest aren’t any of those tiny things that take me back or even the last happy memory I have with them. What I hold most dear to my heart are the people I share these things with. In each of them, we chose to lean in when we could easily have shut out the world. On February 6th, 2015 – when we found out our Luke had passed – Cassy and I came together. We held each other for weeks when we couldn’t find our way forward. On March 16 of this year, we leaned in again as we held Jonah in all of his newborn glory after hoping for months just to hear his cry and look into his eyes one time. In that viewing room, dark with only a couple of chairs and a bright light shining down on my grandpa’s body, the three of us leaned in together and grasped to feel his spirit one more time.
Every single day we go through this life and experience things that rip holes into our souls. Our hearts shatter into a million pieces and only when we lean in do they begin to come back together. Lean in to the people around you – to your spouse, to your parents or children, to your faith. Lean in to the things that make this life something to be proud of and to the people who carry you when you don’t feel like you can take another step. Lean in to the life you want to lead and to the person you want to be on your best day because you need that person the most when you’re on the worst. It doesn’t have to happen all at once and you can’t expect any sort of timeline but if you’re out there looking for a first step forward towards picking up the pieces, this is it. By some miracle I have lived this through one loss after another and seem to have given myself a fighting chance at living with grief. Just one step at a time.