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.