It’s been five years since you passed away, Jack. Those years went by in the blink of an eye and there is so much that I wish I could share with you. Yet, I feel like you have always been here, to guide me through some of the hardest years of my life. Mostly, I take today, the anniversary of the day we lost you from this world, as a time to reflect, to share with you and to celebrate, that I made it through. When we lost you, Jack, I lost most of myself. And, it was because of you, sweet baby, that I found my way back.
For some, losing a child makes them harden to the world, and I did for awhile. The day you died, I fell out of love with life. I disengaged from normal daily activities, from caring about other people’s problems, and from wanting anything better for myself. Those first few months after you had passed, I was in denial. I denied you were gone. I denied you had existed. I denied that I worked for a dysfunctional, unethical company with leaders who were discriminatory, passive aggressive bullies, who were sucking the life out of me. I denied that I dating a man who was a lying, cheating narcissist with borderline personality disorder who treats people as objects. I denied myself the gift of friendship from those who truly cared about me when I didn’t care about myself. I denied myself any opportunity to heal.
In the first 18 months after you were gone, I was so heartbroken that I dug myself so deep into a hole of sadness and there was no way for me to see any way out. When I took an inventory of my losses that year – losing you, my job, a shitty relationship, my home, and friends – I lost my will to live. It took a tribe of beautiful souls to bring me back into the light – my mom, my best friend, my brother, my mentor, and the friends who didn’t turn away from the pain that I was in. They gave me the strength to work through the heartache of compounded loss, to see how some of those losses were truly gifts.
For most of 2011, I traveled because I needed to see the beauty that was left in the world. I traveled alone because I needed to remember how I had once been intuitive and independent. I traveled great lengths because I needed the space to let go of my anger and find respite from all of the hurt. I carried you in my heart the entire journey, listened to the whispers from your soul about forgiveness and finally came home a greater sense of compassion for myself and others. The hard shell I had built was gone.
I met a wonderful man at the end of that year and I added new members to my tribe of beautiful souls. Together, he and I have formed a partnership of deep respect, love and kindness towards one another. Life these past three years has been full of joy, had some pain, but without fear. My fearlessness evolved from surviving so many massive losses and gave me the opportunity to truly understand and appreciate the impermanence of life. It has made me grateful for what I have, but know that I can’t cling to wanting people and moments to be a certain way. You have given me the courage to live a life of no regrets.
During the times I am most challenged to be brave, to be kind, or to be humble, I reflect upon that fateful day we met at Children’s Hospital, when you were struggling to stay alive. I come back to the instant I walked through the door to your hospital room and fell in love with you. I carry that moment in my heart everyday, I reflect upon it every time I need to be empathetic towards myself and others. You were so helpless and had been beaten so badly – all you needed was unconditional love. Egos, agendas, and personal issues were set aside. In those precious moments we had together, there was no time to be insecure and selfish, or make sure that our personal needs were met. All we could do was have the courage to love beyond our small selves.
Each moment that I come back to the reminder of how frail you were, and how we had no control over the outcome of your short life, is a moment that I soften to the world around me and I am grateful. Five years ago, you taught me how to love for the sake of loving, simply because we all need to deserve to feel loved before we die, simply because withholding love from another being only does irrefutable harm to our own souls. You taught me that holding onto anger proves to be a futile mission and, in the end, only causes the one who is angry the greatest amount of suffering. You taught me to be kind and recognize when someone is hiding their pain. You taught me to admit my faults, celebrate my strengths, and never be afraid of either. You taught me to be unapologetic for who I am, but to apologize quickly when I am wrong. You taught me which battles are worth fighting, which ones I should walk away from and how truly liberating forgiveness can be. You taught me that failure is not the end of my story.
Your time on this Earth was short, but the lessons we learned from you have been long. Five years ago when you departed this world, you taught us all how to live. I will never be okay with how our story began, but I will always be grateful for ways you have enriched my life with your small, but mighty soul.
I love you, Jack.