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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Words

We all have things in our lives that are difficult to begin, but once we do become just as difficult to stop. For some, it's a good book. You get so engrossed in the characters and plot that you find yourself stealing time in the carpool line or anywhere you can grab a second to read more and fill yourself with the story. For some, it's a bag of cheetos. You pop one into your mouth as you empty your child's lunchbox only to find yourself taking the box out of the cabinet because you can't get enough of the salty, cheesy yumminess that makes you lick your fingers. For others, particularly middle school girls (like my daughter), she balks about getting into the shower, but once she's in there the water heater drains. Or maybe its a reluctance to stop your busy day to run to the gym, but once you start and your heart is pumping and the endorphins dumping, you wonder why you don't do this everyday.

I love words (hence the name of the blog). I love reading them. I love writing them. I love exploring and examining their magnitude and their simplicity. How they give breath and life to us. How without them, our connection to one another would be limited to the point of isolation. Words have started and ended wars. Started and ended marriages. And friendships. They have the power to hurt and to heal. To pull together and push apart. Through them, we can honestly share ourselves or manipulate those around us. They connect us and allow us to explore and share our deepest thoughts and feelings in the hope of creating or solidifying a connection. We all need to be heard. Understood. Accepted. Loved. And words lay the roadway for that.

Superfluous conversation allows us to fill time and can create a false sense of connection. It's only when we open ourselves up and allow our words to speak truth instead of expectations that we make true connections with people. Form friendships that are both accepting and challenging. We can find comfort in the intimacy while being forced to expose ourselves honestly.

I realize that the majority of our relationships buzz along the periphery of who we really are. To protect ourselves, we only allow a few to truly understand us. Words are the impetus for this. Words allow us to expose ourselves. Open ourselves to a vulnerability that forces us to grow. In my own life, I've had few of these. And I've been fortunate enough to marry one of them. And to have friends who speak truth to me.

As my friend, Michelle, and I keep moving along the road of telling her family's story of life with her special needs son, Nick, I hope that the deep and honest intensity of our conversations in crafting her book allow us to stretch one another and find a truth within ourselves through our words that changes us. 

 




Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How Ten Years of Pain Has Opened the Door for Ten Years of Joy

Ten years ago, I lay in a hospital bed having just been induced for labor. Ten years ago this afternoon, I learned that the sweet baby girl I carried inside of me had died just shy of six months being alive. Ten years ago, I suffered the hardest physical and emotional pain I have ever endured. Because ten years ago, I held the hand of my sweet, two-year-old Peyton, while my obstetrician looked for a heartbeat for our sweet baby Abby. Ten years ago, I lay in denial as I stared at the ultrasound screen while the absence of her pulsing heartbeat changed my world forever. Ten years ago, my soul teetered on the brink of death as I screamed at God for stealing my little girl from me before I'd even met her.

Tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of Abby's birth/death: January 10, 2003. Every year, I pull out my "Abby box." It holds our only pictures of her in the hospital nursery. Her tiny footprints on her birth certificate--evidence of her time with us. The solemn death certificate. The map of Pebble Beach with a heart on the spot where we scattered her ashes. Photographs of the bench we carved her name into at Pebble Beach to mark her grave.

As the years have passed, the anniversary of her birthday has affected me in different ways. For the first few years, waking and realizing what day it was caused a searing pain like ripping a Band-aid off an open wound. I would cradle the remnants and cry. Then, there were the years where I mourned not her death but where she would have been in her life: starting Kindergarten, losing her first teeth, taking her to Disney.

Over the past several days, I've been thinking of her. The beginning of January is always tough in certain ways. My little brother died January 3, 2004, just one week before the first anniversary of Abby's death. At the time, the pain seemed unbearable. Yet, today, I look back at that time and remember that I was pregnant with Ty...our miracle boy, who was born in April of 2004. And as I sit in 2013 and look back over the last decade, I see so much happiness that has risen above the sorrow of the years. I've experienced Tyler starting Kindergarten, losing his first teeth, and going to Orlando. As much as I loved my Abby--and the two babies we miscarried before her-- I know that Tyler was the miracle we were meant to embrace. He is kind, empathetic, wicked smart, and funny. I love him so much I can't express it. For reasons I can't begin to comprehend or want to question, he is here instead of her.

So on her 10th birthday, I will think of her. Love her. Mourn her. And embrace the gift of her little brother. Because an important lesson I've learned in the last decade is that focusing on sadness instead of the immense joy that lies directly in front of us causes us to miss out on the blessings we've been given.