Sunday, January 20, 2013

Looking in the mirror.

You know when you see someone who is managing an impossible situation?  The cancer survivor who keeps going?  The single parent who works 2 jobs, raises their children & still cleans their home?  The parent who is grieving their baby's death while working and raising their other children?  Oh wait, that last one is me & Josh.  This last one applies to several of my friends, most of whom I have met after Ethan's death.

But seriously, you know when you meet people facing impossible situations & ask them how they do it.  They answer, "what's the option?"  Or one thing at a time.  Or go on to focus upon their many blessings despite the tragedies or challenges facing them.  I used to hear these responses from cancer survivors all of the time and be in awe of these people.  Truly.  Those with terminal cancer often have the best attitudes.  That is not to say that they feel well, physically or emotionally all of the time.  Instead, it is to say even when things are hard, really hard, they keep moving.  Keep being thankful for the blessings that they do have.  Before Ethan died I used to look up to these people, still do really.  Used to pray that if I ever faced such an impossible challenge, that I could carry myself with the grace and fortitude that these patients did.  That the teenage clients I used to work with at The Home for Little Wanderers displayed.  Some of them may have been acting a fool some days, but hey...they still got out of bed each morning, breathed in and out and usually got dressed.  That's more than most of us would have done after how abused many of them were as children.

I find strength from others' strength.  Surely if they can continue on, I can right?  I'm starting to appreciate that perhaps those who have shared that Josh & I inspire strength or faith in others may be telling the truth.  For the longest time it didn't seem possible.  After all, getting out of bed & feeding our other three kids isn't an option just because Ethan died.  Breathing in and out couldn't be inspiring.  But perhaps, to some, it is?

Today I attended my last service at our church, as Josh has been called to a different church and our family is moving there this week.  Most goodbyes are emotional, at least the ones where people have carried you during your Major Depression and PTSD.  I anticipated some tears, on both sides.  What I didn't anticipate were the humbling, candid words by friends saying that I somehow inspired them.

Is it really possible that in our darkest hours, when we want to be on the floor crying (and sometimes are), we somehow display contagious strength?  The courageous cancer survivor.  He's really just my friend.  The determined single-parent.  She's really my colleague.  Those who inspire are really people, just like me and just like you.  So today I look in the mirror.  Proudly.  If grieving publicly for all to see somehow affirms or validates someone's experience, what a gift for me.  If my way through this grief, depression and trauma encourages someone to keep moving forward, another gift.  If seeing me get out of bed on the hard days is somehow inspiring, then perhaps this is God working some good from tragedy.  And for that, I am thankful.

Go ahead, look in the mirror.  I know it can be uncomfortable for most of us.  But the person looking back is capable of amazing things.  Look for your strength.  Chances are you probably are inspiring others already.  Be proud of yourself, I know I am.


  1. Replies
    1. another gift for me. thank you kathy!

  2. People often said to us "I don't know how you do it" while Alexander was in treatment. But like you said - what choice did we have? Many people have said that I have been an "inspiration" to them - I don't get it. I just did what hundreds of other parents have to do every day. But, if they can look at me and decide to change the way they live because of what we went through, then I guess it is okay. =)

    1. yes, i didn't mean to say or imply that Alexander or Ethan's deaths are OK with us. but instead to imply if somehow others can grow from our experiences, than that is OK with me.