Saturday, July 11, 2009

finding the good

Ho Hum... if this is an accurate state of being then that is how I feel. There is such good in our lives but such sorrow lately too. I will be 40 years old on August 14th. 40. I have to say it again because sometimes that number doesn't seem real. I like getting older and truth be told, every year gets better and I have more connections with life and with who I want to be. I like going forward and it's just a number, the number 40. It really means nothing but because I don't think about it too much when I do say how old I will be, I catch myself off guard. But this isn't a rant about age, what I wanted to say was that in my 40 years on this planet, not many of them have had to deal with death and the loss of loved ones. I can count the passing of a handful of people that dramatically impacted my life over the last 38 years. Only two were tragic and that was the death of my brother and the death of Steven's friend Keith. They both were too young to leave this earth and the possibilities of what could have been in their lives was emotionally devastating. So much they never got to experience here. The others were equally sad but at least these people were much older and had life experiences and their deaths were easier to accept.

Fast forward to January 2008 and the death of my father. The hardest time and concept to accept up until that point in my life. I am sure most children have a very hard time with the loss of a parent, especially when it comes so suddenly. My dad was too young, only 67, and I was not prepared for the loss. I understand why he was taken now and that was to be there for Ellie. This I know with every fiber of my being. With our families entrance into the cancer circle, through Ellie, we have come to know and grieve for many. The first loss that impacted me was that of little Shelbi Martin. I never even met her but I fell in love with her and her family through her parents words and photos. Her story started out so similarly to Ellie's. Same tumor, same treatment, same raw emotions. Her death jolted me hard. Many others followed after Shelbi. Zachary, Caleb, Mary Kate, Catie, Erin and Liam. They were all too young, much younger than Keith and my brother Michael. Yesterday I lost a friend named Wendy. She was Mrs. Weeks daughter and was close to my age. The word lost or loss is repeated over and over and over again and it is a loss, a void, a casualty, a devastation but I have to search for the gain, the achievement, the growth, the positive.

My brother's death shaped the person I was to become. I appreciated life more, I didn't have regrets and I understood how precious and fleeting it all is. That was a pretty good reality check for a 16 year old and that was his life gift to me. I thank him every day for it. My father's gift was to spiritually help me and Ellie on our journey through cancer. He made me stronger and more determined. All of the children that have passed have stayed with me and they remind me to keep fighting and giving back and trying to strive to be better and to love more. They all inspire me. Wendy's death will do the same thing. She has helped me on my journey to Jesus and her confidence never waivered. I will take that as my gift and I will stay true to the Lord and share our story whenever possible.

The last year and half has been so unlike the other 38.5 years of my life. As my girlfriend MaryAnn would say 'Your cup runneth over'. It certainly does. The good and the bad. The love and the heartache, the loss and the gain.