Some background is probably needed to understand why I have decided to keep a blog that's centered on grief and gratitude. At the end of September of 2010, our oldest son Matthew phoned us from his university up in Bellingham to say that he had been quite sick and had been to the emergency room twice. They had ruled out various things, but he still wasn't feeling well. We decided to go up and get him, and thus began the most difficult three weeks of our lives. What initially masked itself as a severe case of pneumonia, was in fact a virulent form of strep that attacked his bi-cuspid aortic heart valve, necessitating valve replacement surgery. But when they actually went in, they found the damage was far more extensive than they thought. And while Matthew survived the surgery (mostly due to his youth), he never regained consciousness. He spent the last week of his life in a coma, before he died on October 22.
The loss of a child is every parent's worse nightmare. It's simply unnatural. Yet I’ve learned that life does continue on, even when yours appears to have crumbled to rubble. I’ve learned that you do begin to put it back together again, piece by piece. Its form is different, but it is still a life. It continues to have shape and meaning. And part of that new shape is formed by the memory of your loved one. That memory is present all the time, looking over your shoulder helping you restructure this new construct. At least that’s how I feel. I feel Matthew’s presence as we all rebuild our lives without his physical body here.
For the past 17 months I’ve written privately about the journey our family found itself on. In my writings, I became aware that despite our deep, deep loss, every once in a while this sense of gratitude would come bubbling to the surface. It was involuntary (especially in those early months), but I found myself filled with a deep appreciation for the present moment. I realized that no one is guaranteed anything, and that life has many unpredictable twists and turns and dead ends. But by appreciating the small things, we can still live a life of purpose. And that’s what this blog is about. It’s about my gratitude for all of the little things that constitute my life now. I feel so much more aware of this since Matthew’s death, and for that I’m grateful. Would I wish I could lose this knowledge and bring him back?…Of course, in a heartbeat. But like him, I find myself in another place, trying to make sense of it in the best way I can.
My posts won't be long, or even particularly profound. But writing is an outlet for me and I hope through writing about the little things that help keep me afloat, I will show the immense transformational power of grief and loss.
Thank you, thank you for your courage and for the beautiful way in which you are sharing your heart breaking journey. May every one of your words reflect back to you the enormity of the gift that you are offering others.
Thank you so much for you kind words. They are much appreciated.ReplyDelete
Robin, I am so happy to hear that you are writing again and have started this new blog. It is a tough, sensitive subject and I so appreciate that you are doing this. It takes a lot of courage to share with others what you've been through. This blog will be a true gift to many people. Matthew would be so proud of you, as I am too.ReplyDelete
What a beautiful beginning to your new blog...I look forward to reading more. Your gratitude has shone through your grief since the first day I met you, and it is a gift. It is wonderful to have good company on this hard road, and I am thankful that Reba introduced us. Gratitude is the only way I know how to survive on this journey - gratitude and love.ReplyDelete
Thank you Peg and Karen for your kind and thoughtful words. Peg, I hope to connect with you soon and catch up. Karen, I look forward to our walk on Friday and I agree it is wonderful to have good company on this hard road we find ourselves on.ReplyDelete
Robin, Thank you for having the courage to share your heart in this way. You and Karen inspire me to write through my own journey. And I hope to discover more gratitude and transformation that comes with this path of losing a child.ReplyDelete
Reba, I hope you will continue to write about your own journey, as you have so much to offer. x,oReplyDelete
Robin, Thank you so much for opening your heart and sharing your thoughts about your journey with Matthew. We who love you are tremendously touched by your courage and eloquence, and feel so fortunate to have you in our lives. I look forward to reading more as you continue your journey.ReplyDelete
Sorry, Robin, that last post (Unknown) was from me.ReplyDelete
Dear Robin, I have just read your blog and I am amazed and excited about the themes of courage and vulnerability. These are the two qualities which I spoke about our daughter Bonnee when she died unexpectedly in 2010 and of whom I have written about in emails to you. To me she embodied these qualities immensely – in her 37 years she lived life to the max and in many ways beyond what many people experience by 60, 70 or 80. She was resolute in being herself. I admired those qualities so much.ReplyDelete
And ... even more serendipitous – I was having breakfast in Taupo ( NZ) with Rick the day before the first Courage to Lead Retreat was to begin and I was telling him about Bonnee and these lovely qualities I saw in her. On the second day he introduced both these words , courage and vulnerability, into the circle, speaking of our conversation about Bonnee. She was then present in a way that was so beautiful and authentic because it was Bonnee who inspired me to create the first Retreat in NZ.
Rick spoke to me of your courage Robin and it is so evident here in your blog. I acknowledge the gifts you are taking from this very dark loss. And as Mary Oliver so succinctly says in “The Uses of Sorrow”
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this too, was a gift.
Thank you so much Chris for those wise words. Unfortunately, you and I find ourselves on this same path, but I am grateful that we walk together.ReplyDelete
I don't remember ever seeing Mary Oliver's The Uses of Sorrow. Thank you for that, it's beautiful.
I so hope one day to meet you in person. But for now, cyberspace will have to do.
Oh, Robin. What a gift you are to me, to so many in this world. I am profoundly grateful for your friendship, your wisdom, and now this--your blog. As you know, my life has been transformed by my own grief and ultimately my healing. I do see grief and gratitude as two sides of the same coin. We would never choose the suffering that life presents, but once immersed in it, the only way I have found to move through it, is by staying present to the grace that exists in the small things...the things that really matter. Through grief I have come to understand that I actually need to turn to gratitude again and again in order to keep my heart open, vulnerable, and capable of experiencing love. Thank you for this opportunity to stay present to my own grief and gratitude through your blog. So Much Love- MargaretReplyDelete
Margaret, you have been such a teacher and friend to me this past year and a half. Thank you, thank you for your heart-warming words.ReplyDelete
I have just been sent this link to your blog by my sister, Cynti, who has been with me on my journey through grief since I lost Sarah, twenty-six, our eldest child and only daughter in November, 2007. That day my life changed in an instant.
I reach out through cyberspace to extend a hug as you journey forward. The open sharing through this blog gifts all of us, your followers with your courage, love and faith. Thank you for your kind heart. I will keep you in my prayers. Liz G
Thank you for your kind words, and I am so very sorry for your loss. I am sending a hug back to you via cyberspace. Please feel free to e-mail me if you'd like to chat "offline." We walk together on this path no one chooses to be on.
I know it’s easy to sayReplyDelete
I know it’s not easy to hear.
It’s about as easy to hear
As grief is to bear
Irvine grief therapy
Robin... What a beautiful place to come and rest and cry. Thank you for creating it. I felt pulled to this site with your interest in children's books and then my heartache from losing my beautiful son. When my adult son, Nathanael, was suddenly killed in a car accident, it not only left my young granddaughter without her daddy, but without the answer to her persistent question, “Where is my daddy?” I was practically paralyzed with grief for these last 3 years, then as I was coming out of my grief-stricken coma, I felt the need to at least TRY to answer my granddaughter’s question. As I struggled for just the right way to go about it, I feel God blessed me with a gentle story that I put in a preschool picture book form, I named, "Nattie's Daddy". It has helped my 4 year old granddaughter and many others as it eventually spread throughout my community, helping the adults involved as well. I am an artist, so this picture book endeavor was theraputic for me too. I'd love for you to take a peek at my 'labor of love' on my website and if you feel it is worthy enough to add to a list of books you would recommend to those who are grieving, I would be honored. My website is LoriLovelady.com I put a few pages from my "Nattie's Daddy" book on the 'photo gallery' in my site in case you'd like to view the story line. It's also available on Amazon.com at the cheapest price they would let me put it on for in their 'print on demand' program...$9.95. This is definitely NOT about making money, but for helping those like me, Nathanael's mom; My daughter, Nathanael's sister; My granddaughter, Nathanael's daughter and so on. Thank you again for your kind heart and strength to have a place for those of us who are still grieving to come to.ReplyDelete