When I woke up this morning I did not plan to be writing a blog post. Although I had been anticipating this day – and feeling many emotions regarding it, I did not think I had anything to say. What do you say on the anniversary of a loss? It is certainly not the type of anniversary to “celebrate”. If anything, it is just a reminder of what happened a year ago today. We lost Grant. My dear, sweet, feisty nephew. It was awful. It was painful. He was only four. Reliving the memories of that day isn’t exactly something I want to do. And I am not even going to begin to pretend like I know what it’s like to lose my child and how the last year has been for June and Michael. Or any other parents that have lost their little one.
This morning I was pulling laundry out of the dryer to fold, and pulled out a shirt I have seen many, many times. The words on it read, “If Grant can do cancer, you can do this.” I immediately got very emotional. Grant may not be here physically, but he is still so very much a part of how I live my life. His journey has taught me – and should show all of us – to view things differently.
Perspective. If anything, I have gained an entirely different perspective on life from little Grant. His may have been far too short, but it left a large impact. Make the most of each day. Make the most of each relationship. It also gave me a new perspective on loss. On pain and suffering. On understanding a little better how to not just sympathize, but empathize with others. I may not always know the right words to say, but my heart has been opened more and feels deeper because of Grant.
Family. The day Grant passed away, we found out we were pregnant with Ruby. Very bittersweet, but Grant taught me to see my children and family differently. To cherish every moment. To spend more quality time together as a family. To love my husband more deeply. You never know when things can change or when you may no longer have them. Life passes too quickly. Cherish relationships and cherish family. Over this last year, it has be so hard to look at Jude and not think of Grant. He is two, the same age Grant was when he was diagnosed. They also have so many similar personality traits and interests – I swear they are kindred spirits! I would have loved to see them grow up together. Jude even just started pointing using his middle finger – the same thing Grant always did that made us laugh. These things that make me think of Grant remind me to hug a little tighter, read more bedtime stories together, get on the floor and play more, and make the most of the present. Not just with my kids, but to soak up more time with James too. Life is just far too short.
^ Grant and Baby Jude ^
Strength. Again, if Grant can do cancer, you can do this. I still remember walking down the halls in the cancer wing of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and just losing it when I passed room after room and bed after bed holding the tiniest of bodies. Little children, babies even, in pain and fighting for their lives. Grant is my hero.
But, for me, when I think of Grant’s journey and what it has taught me about strength. I think of mostly of June – and in no way am I overlooking Michael, but as a mother and female, that is who I relate to. When I think about today, as sad as it is for me already – I think about a mother’s love. About a mother’s pain and suffering when it comes to her children. And my heart aches for June and what those two+ years in the hospital were like and what this last year without her baby has been like. I have indeed been blessed by her strength and her faith. No doubt there are many dark moments behind closed doors, but I am in awe of how she has handled everything and I hope she knows how inspiring she has been to me and I am sure to many others. She is a rock. She reminds me that if she can do the last difficult four years of heartache, I can do whatever cards life deals me as well.
Faith & Hope. Lastly, Grant’s journey strengthened my faith. My faith in people that reach out, love, serve, and support in times of need. And my faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ. That because of Him, families can be together again. We will see Grant again. I know that. That hope makes the current burden of physical loss easier to bear.
So today, when I didn’t think I had anything to say, I am grateful I came across that shirt in the laundry. I am grateful that it made me reflect on the many things gained out of a painful and still ever present loss. I am grateful for the happy memories – for his smile and cute little voice. That so much about Jude reminds of Grant in ways that make me smile. I am grateful that, in hard times, Grant has given me more hope and strength to know that – I can do this.
Many hugs and prayers for peace going out to family today – And to those who are in the cancer battle or dealing with loss. xoxo