And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.
-Maya Angelou

Sunday, August 16, 2015


One month ago I joined a gym. That in and of itself is not a big deal. But for me, it was a monumental step forward in this grief journey. It was a decision based on my acknowledgment that while Jack is no longer here on this earth, I am and it's very possible that I might be here for awhile yet so I need to take care of me. I'm a different kind of tired these days. I'm tired of the relentless looking back and agonizing over everything I did or didn't do and everything the medical professionals did or didn't do. I'm tired of the guilt, the "if onlys", and of being stuck in the hell of Jack's last two years. There are no do-overs. I can't change what is. I believe with all my heart that Jack really is okay. He has moved on to a most amazing place and I know we will be reunited some day. Although I will always miss him; I will always ache for his presence; and the tears will continue to fall, I need to be willing to imagine a future without Jack that involves more than just getting through each day. I need to be willing to find purpose and joy in life again. I've reached the point where I am willing.

There were many times during Jack's life that I was told I am strong. Yet, I never felt strong because it wasn't strength that carried me through the fifteen years of Jack's life. It was Love. It wasn't strength that held me up during those many months sitting by Jack's bedside in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, or that allowed me to sign consent form after consent form giving doctors permission to cut on Jack time and time again. It wasn't strength that carried me through countless sleepless nights of suctioning, treatments, bagging, alarms and worry. It wasn't strength that traveled with us 1500 miles cross country year after year to give Jack the best medical care possible. It wasn't strength that allowed me to say enough and give Jack permission to go Home. It was Love. Love that transcended words and was given unconditionally through those beautiful, soulful eyes.

What takes strength is handing your child's body over to the mortuary people knowing you will never see or touch your precious boy again. It takes strength to plan your child's funeral and watch his physical remains be lowered into the ground. It takes strength to open the envelope that contains your child's death certificate. It takes strength to get up every day and go to a job that feels meaningless in the face of such overwhelming loss. It takes strength to keep your heart open to the pain and hardships of other parents who are still in the trenches. It takes strength to smile, laugh and find moments of joy in life. It takes extraordinary strength to choose to live a life of joy after the death of your child.

So today, I admit that I feel strong. It has taken superhuman strength to get through the last nineteen months without Jack. But I've done it. And I'm still standing. While I no longer have those loving eyes to carry me through, I have the love and grace of God and the unending love and support of amazing friends and family.

Today I feel strong. And I'm willing to imagine a life of purpose and joy in the absence of my sweet boy.