A few weeks ago, at the Storyline Conference in Chicago, we were each given binders. Inside them were timelines and tools to help us each recall our own personal life’s story. I considered the events in my own life that have been turning points, in both good and bad ways. One thing I realized as I began to plot out each event in my life that had left a groove was that there was one blow that had been dealt before I had even been born. It was the day my parents tragically lost their first born son, just a few weeks before his third birthday.
As a kid this did not fully register. Not until I had my own child did it fully compute. Listening to my dad recount his journey through that loss and coming to faith on the evening after we’d shared a Thanksgiving meal reminded me again of how poignant that loss was in my own life. For in the shadow that was their grief, I came to be. What I know of this brother whom I never knew is brought to life in the story of his death. There is something unsettling in the moment when, as a grown woman, my parents’ loss fully registers. He was real. He was deeply loved. And he was lost. Because he had come before me, and I had never known him, it was beyond my capacity to fully comprehend until I knew the fierceness of the love a parent has for their child.
In as much as I can possibly comprehend the depth of their loss, I now realize what a gift it is that I or the two brothers after me were even born. For the loss that was echoes even to this day. My parents could have decided the grief was too great; the risk of losing again was not worth it.
So today I give thanks that my parents were not so undone that they stopped living. I give thanks for the life they gave me and the lesson I learned in watching them do so – – that in the wake of our losses, life is still worth living.
Forty Days Til’ Forty, and this one’s for you, Mom and Dad. I love you.