MDA CAMP

My beautiful daughter volunteered to be an MDA counselor this summer. This is the little boy she was assigned to be with all week. He is totally and completely adorable. My daughter, knowing his fate, does all she can to help him enjoy ... everything. A few moments after shooting this photo I happened to film them as he tried to fix her hair. I could tell he really felt safe around her and wanted to reciprocate her loving kindness. 

There is something magical about service. I have a deep suspicion that most of what troubles the world today could be solved if we all stopped and took time to serve one another. Not necessarily because the act of service will change the life of the recipients as much as it changes the life of the giver. The more we give the more we change. It seems to me that the world has it all backwards: we do not change the world by trying to change it. We can only change the world by changing ourselves, from within. The world is merely an outward reflection of our inward convictions; and the fastest way to change us from within is to serve others. 

ON FINDING JOY

Several weeks ago Natalie and Laura-Ashley went out for some mother/daughter time. This was one of Natalie’s Instagram posts of their day. I immediately laughed out loud when I saw this photo of Natalie doing her “giddy-on-up” jump. My heart leapt because I love these two girls with all of my heart and I was glad they were having so much fun together. Their joy gave me joy.

Natalie always made Mitch laugh by doing some funny dance or singing at the top of her lungs. She knew how to lift his spirits in such a special way. I love her for that … and I love her, for her. Laura-Ashley also had a special bond with Mitch – he found comfort in being around her and I would often see the two of them hanging out together. At least for me, if ever there is a parental payday, it is seeing the goodness within them. They make me want to be a better person. 

I have spent the last (almost) 2 years posting about my grief and my love, my faith and my flaws. Though I write of grief, I do not live in a constant state of grief. I used to live in a constant state of deep sorrow, but not today. Each day is a little sunnier than the day before. To be clear, I have hard things yet to share; stories of grief and sorrow that come from the darkest corners of the soul. I will share them not because I am there, but because I was there. I hope that in sharing it helps others who are drowning in a sea of grief – for I know those dark waters and they are scary beyond belief. To all of you that hurt, I want you to know how much I care.

When I think about my son I smile and my heart swells with love and longing. Sometimes, and sometimes often, when I think of Mitch I cry. I shut my door to my office and I weep a million and ten tears. When I’m done heaving in sorrow, when the emotional storm has passed, I then wipe those tears away and I face the day the best I know how. That is all I can do sometimes, and I think that’s okay.

One of the many things I admire about Natalie is she always seems to find a reason for joy. Though her heart aches in the worst way, she makes the best of every single day. And that is contagious. 

In my own grief journey I've discovered heartbreak and grief exist despite the choice to remain in or rise above it. The best way to help others out of grief, I have learned, is to love those that hurt and give heavy hearts time to heal. It is an exquisitely personal and individual journey.

Grief hurts because we love and miss our dear ones. It hurts because they are gone and we want them back. There is nothing wrong with hurting … and it will always hurt. The more I contemplate my own grief journey I'm beginning to wonder if the key to finding joy while living with chronic grief is learning to not mind that it hurts.