I'm heartbroken she is not here, but thankful she chose us.
Thanksgiving has always been a time to reflect for me - the highs and lows, the learning lessons, gains and losses, to spend time with family, talk about the things we are grateful for, some football, give back, and food lots and lots of food.
Since Ari's death, it has been different. As much as I tried to keep it similar for our living son, it is still different. I have figured out ways, supports, tools to come to terms with the grief storm that is bound to happen around the heightened emotional holidays.
But, just because it is different doesn't mean it has to be bad. I truly am heartbroken that Ari is not here with us, but I cannot express the gratitude I have that she chose me - chose us.
I'm grateful that we were able to meet her, spend 9 hours and 51 minutes with her, bathe her, read to her, kiss her beautiful face and lips, smell her baby scent, hold her precious hands, pray over her and get her...
Losing Ari could have wrecked us as a couple. We could have become one of the statistics.
We could have given up on one another, went opposite ways when our grief did the same.
We could have wallowed in our own bubble of pain, not communicating or telling one another we need help.
But we didn't.
We found more love, more fight within us to not let her death break us, but to let her LIFE lead us.
She leads us every day to choose better. To be better as a couple. To be better parents. Better friends. Be better human beings.
It is not a walk in the park. In fact, it is more like a marathon.
But, not one other person on this planet will ever be able to understand the depth of pain we each carry more than one another.
Though we grieve differently, he gets me. He is my person.
Grief exists because love did first.
And ever since grief entered our life, it's been about finding our way through it......
Ragnar Trail Run.
Northwoods of Wisconsin.
Requires running into the dark.
Head down, heart racing, following a path into the unknown, in fear, to the things ahead I cannot see...
Falling. Bruises, cuts and scrapes. Aches and pains. Struggling. Continuing the race, broken and tired. But fighting until it is finished.
I think this is the metaphor of my life.
After the loss of a child, life is certainly a struggle. I recognize and honor that truth. And it is ok to struggle. But you have a choice every day to fight for more. In truth, that is not easy. But it is possible.
You can either let fear of the unknown slip into every other part of your life, inhibiting you from truly enjoying it. Or you can battle and fight, start to stretch yourself, take risks (even with fear, not knowing the outcome) and still fully experience the beauty left in this life.
After the loss of Ari, the things I once feared and thought that if attempted I would surely fail, I have conquered. I...
Our little ‘lion of God’ rightfully earned her name. From the moment of late daughter's official diagnosis of Trisomy 13 on November 7, 2016, Ari overcame so many of the odds stacked against her. The biggest odd of them all, surviving.
On a train to Chicago, our son Chase unknowingly captured this photo of me. After scrolling through all of the photos taken that day I stumbled upon this one. I froze. I saw a lion.
What?!?! Yes, I saw a lion, but most likely not what you're thinking.
See the way the light blends with the edges of my hair? It creates a makeshift mane so on the surface, I immediately see a lion. But beyond the obvious, looking closer and going deeper... I see more.
I see the focus and clarity in my eyes, fixed on the thoughts of forward progress. A course that was intuitively set from the very beginning of my story. I see the patience and stillness in my body, a distinct understanding that there is...