Thursday, June 15, 2017

One year

JJ turns one year old this Friday. On 6/15/16 of last year, Sharry and I were anxiously and excitedly waiting for our new baby and our duo to become a trio. Life seemed so full of promise, hope, and excitement as we attempted to coax out baby boy by walking around the block of our newly purchased first home. I sincerely felt on top of the world. The next morning on 6/16/16 came the cataclysm and in an instant our world was torn asunder. My Sharry, my best friend and twin soul of 11.5 years was lost from this Earth as she gave her life for her beautiful baby boy.

It has been one hell of a year. A year of absolute heartbreak and complicated grief. A year of learning to live in a new dismal normal where the absolute worst case scenarios can and do happen. A year of intensely struggling as a single parent. A year for faith trials full of doubt and despair.

Yet it has also been a year of tremendous learning and growth. Here are a handful of lessons learned this year:
  • I have learned that life is incredibly fragile and we must absolutely consciously and explicitly cherish and love those closest to us
  • Life is both extraordinarily magical and utterly miserable
  • There is pain, suffering and heartache everywhere. When you go through a severe trial people begin to open up and share their own storms creating a network of love and compassion
  • Compassion is my new very favorite word in the English dictionary (com=with, passion=suffer) and it is now one of my life’s missions to live and teach compassion along with its needed sibling, empathy
  • Searching for truth and life after life are definitely worthwhile yet slippery pursuits
  • People, very much including complete strangers, can be so good, generous and compassionate in the face of suffering
  • I love Deckers and Buhanans more than ever. Our families have been the critical life raft upon which JJ and I have clung and survived despite the torrential storms
  • Babies are extremely exhausting and so damn cute. JJ is both my anchor to this life, my literal piece of Sharry and the number one source of stress and exhaustion.
  • I no longer judge parenting. If they are not abusive and doing their best then my hat goes off to them.
  • Humans are resilient. If someone like me can survive the very worst of nonviolent tragedies than so can you. In Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Option B she writes about losing her husband at a young age and describes resilience as a muscle that we can strengthen. I agree.
  • Love is expansive and not limited. After losing Sharry I thought my broken heart would never be able to truly love deeply again. That has not been the case but quite the opposite. My love for Sharry has not been diminished in the least and my capacity for love has expanded. I love JJ more than I thought possible. My love for my students, family and friends has only deepened. As Mother Teresa and other wise teachers have taught, suffering carves out our heart to love more deeply.
  • I can, I must choose to believe in hope and joy

JJ and I will strive to continue the legacy that Sharry lived and espoused, to cherish experiences and relationships above all else. I choose to live a full life with love and adventure and in her place JJ and I will need to work twice as hard to fill the void her light and life leaves in the world.

And I offer my heartfelt gratitude to you reader whether you be a family member, friend, acquaintance or complete stranger for your love, generosity, prayers, good vibes, compassion...everything over the last year. I believe Shar is grateful to you as well.

Here are some adorable one year birthday pictures (taken by my talented sister) of the cute little JJ and I know if his angel mama has any choice in the matter she will be with him on this day of celebration and loss. Also you can play a JJ by the month quiz game and/or offer him birthday wishes, embedded below or link here.