Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tragedy and Growth

"Physical strength is measured by what we can carry; spiritual by what we can bear." ~ Source Unknown

It's amazing how much change and growth can occur in two years. As the 2-year mark approaches for Austin's accident it's hard to summarize in a few paragraphs how I have evolved. I was reading parts of A Season of Grief, by Ann Dawson and found a couple pages that truly described my thoughts. I've decided to take a shortcut in this entry and share what Dawson had to say...

"When I was newly bereaved, nothing in the world mattered to me but the pain I was enduring. All the minor annoyances I used to make into major issues became insignificant. Worries about the future became meaningless....

Over time, as the sharp edge of grief began to dull, I noticed that people who had once irritated me began to seem more tolerable. Pet peeves like dirty dishes in the sink or wet towels on the floor did not merit the expenditure of energy it would take to raise a complaint. I found myself softening in my grief, becoming less critical and impatient. I started to develop a sense of acceptance of things beyond my control. And gradually, in very short bursts and then in longer and longer periods, I began to become aware once more of the beauty of our universe. The works of God - mountains, trees, clouds, and oceans - become breathtaking works of divine art, and the arts of humankind... Little by little I was made aware of the powerful beauty of creation, and I basked in the warmth of that realization...."

What an awesome thing it is to be confronted with your greatest nightmare, to live through that experience and survive it, and then to come out on the other side of the fire. Those of us who have endured such a fate are often surprised to look back and realize that we did indeed survive the confrontation. We are sometimes even more surprised to understand that the fire of our suffering has tempered us and made us stronger people than we were before our trial.

When I remember the past, I look back with longing on the days when my family was intact.... But I don't miss the person that I was before that time of loss. Although I am now a person who carries a deep sadness within the depths of her soul, a sadness I could have done without if asked, I am also a person with a new strength, a stronger faith, and a renewed sense of respect and awe for the world around me. I have a new thirst for knowledge, a confidence born of adversity, and a great hope for the future.

We can choose to take the sorrows that come our way in this life and allow them to make better people of us....

The sorrows that we endure in this life strengthen us. They make us more compassionate toward others. They help us to appreciate the good things that happen to us, and they often help to improve our perspective in life. Trivial incidents lose the power they once had to annoy us. Often as a result of suffering, we become more spiritual people. We have reason to believe and to hope that there will be a better life after this one, and we become searchers for truths to bear this out. We learn to appreciate our loved ones more deeply, and we become more gentle and more patient than we were before.

Suffering, then, can be considered a gift of sorts. As a result of the adversities we endure, we are forced to grow, to learn, and to love more fully. Without the experience of sorrow in our lives, our growth might not be as meaningful. And, in the end, growth is the reason for our life here on earth: we are here to grow in knowledge, love, and faith. As we grow, therefore, we move closer to God who will one day call us home." Ann Dawson

I am hoping. in the days to come, to be able to write more about how I've changed over the past 2 years. I have so much to say, but sometimes it is hard to put it in words that do it justice. Other times the thoughts roll off the fingers.... I never know just when it will happen, but when it does I will share it with you.

Monday, June 11, 2012


"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring. All of which have the potential to turn a life around." ~Maya Angelou
This week-end was filled with lacrosse, lacrosse, and more lacrosse - the same way it is this time every year... lacrosse tournaments, playoffs, and league picnic. For three months the boys play lacrosse with their friends, Mike coaches, and I get to hang out on the side lines with my friends... friends who have shown me what it truly means to be a friend... friends who pulled together and lifted my family up two years ago. Every year, at this time, will be a beautiful reminder of how blessed my family is for the community we are in.

On Saturday, at one of the many games of the week-end, I was chatting with the wife of the head coach from a neighboring team, asking how their son's lacrosse season was going. I had only met her once before, two years ago, but easily remembered her son's name... it's Austin. She was asking about my boys' who were playing lacrosse and then asked the "dreaded question", "Do you have any other kids?" To which I replied, "Yes, I have one other son who passed away 2 years ago. His name is Austin, that is how I remember your son's name." Her husband then commented to his wife, "He was killed on a motorcycle. We were at a tournament when we got the news and it really rocked everyone."

And I'm once again reminded that we are blessed to have two communities, six hours apart, love us up and show us what "community" is all about.  How fitting that in less than two weeks we will be celebrating Austin's life with almost 200 friends and family from two communities, brought together by a beautiful blue-eyed young man who knew what "community" was all about.

Every year, at this time, will be both a reminder of the tragedy that changed my life forever and the beautiful communities that showed my family and me what it truly means to "love people up".