It has been heavy in the stories of loss these past few weeks… I don’t know if it’s connected, but I have been struggling more so than usual for the past month in my grieving of Kai. I’ve been tempted to write, but each time I start, I hear of a new tragedy, learn of a friend grieving, read a stranger’s words that echo with as much familiarity as the thoughts that race through my head, and I feel unworthy to say anything. I am not unique. I am not special. Every single person has a story. Every person has triumphs. Every person has sorrow.
I’ve been thinking so much lately and feeling my heart so tangibly ache with conflicting emotions: each beat feels the raw pain of this loss but somehow simultaneously it fills with love and compassion. In hearing about stories of loss lately, the sadness, the disbelief, the questions of “why” hit you like a sucker punch to the stomach. But you also see the outpouring love, giving of self, and compassion that are undoubtedly stronger than the horrible circumstances – even if it can’t take away the pain.
People slow down, people set aside their differences (and their phones ). Our hearts are broken for those in sorrow and in turn our hearts grow bigger. I mentioned before that when we lost Kai, my heart was broken, but it truly has become broken open. It will never be mended on this earth – the longing for God and his redemption, the yearning for a restored home, and the hope to see my son once again pull my eyes upward and the wound is a tender reminder that we can have hope.
I wish it did not take horrible things to happen for us to open up our hearts. I’m as guilty as anyone. I wish I knew how to love better, help more. Sometimes it seems overwhelming, but it could be so simple: to pause in our “busy” lives, to serve, to give, to not be afraid to take a chance. I can’t speak for all of the different challenges and sorrows each one of you feel, but in my humble opinion, I think it may always be ok to let someone know you care, that you’re walking with them on this journey. Even if you’re far away and especially if you’re right nearby…. Ask them how are you today? Tell them you have been thinking of them, praying for them. Don’t be afraid to “name” the loss.
The other week when I was having a tough time and could not express one word to explain my withdrawn silence, Shawn said I know that I understand the pain you feel, but I don’t understand how you’re feeling right now. He then later sent me this blog post in which a stranger articulated so many of the things I cannot describe as if she had peeked into the thoughts of my mind. One part struck me:
“On the days when no one but you mentions their name, I am so, so sorry. Say their name bravely. Know that they are still real, they are still here, and you are still their momma.”
Kai never leaves my heart and soul, but I have/want to say his name each day no matter what – it means something that I can’t explain. Maybe it’s because he’s my kid and I should be saying his name a ton: “Kai – how in the world did you get up there?”, “Kai, you’re getting so big!”, “Kai, our hands don’t belong in the ________” “Kai, sweet little man, big brother, my son…. I love you.”
Every one of you has a story. Every one of us knows someone with sorrow and pain. I encourage us all to be brave, be courageous.
For all of us: be brave and not feel ashamed of when maybe it’s too hard to fight the pain. Feel the freedom to ‘name’ what you’re going through. Be courageous to let people in – there are so many people who want to walk with you and who will respect how you choose to go on your journey. When it’s our turn to walk alongside, be brave in reaching out and courageous in accepting silence: know that no response, an inability to respond, and/or tears does not mean the gesture was in vain. Your presence, your message, could be the one reminder in their day that love wins.
These days, one of the things I love is hearing little Maya’s little voice singing the tunes of songs she can’t quite articulate the words to. Sometimes hearing someone’s voice can trigger so much in your heart which is maybe why I love this video of little Kai Kai’s rendition of wheels on the bus. I sometimes just like closing my eyes to hear his voice on a video – I can picture him so well.