On Saturday I'd made a list of things I wanted to write about this week. I had expected to share with you all the details of Sam's 1st Birthday party... the recipe for the cake I made him, his outfit, the decor... But none of those details seem important enough to write about anymore.
The morning after Sam's party we woke to the news that a beloved uncle on my husband's side of the family had died suddenly of a heart attack early that morning.
His is not my story to tell, nor would I do it justice if I tried. But I can tell you that he was a wonderful father, husband, son, uncle, brother, friend... who is utterly irreplaceable and will be greatly missed by so many.
I did want to share a few thoughts, a few things this last week has taught me. Forgive me if these thoughts seem a little scattered and lack cohesion right now...
It is unnerving how quickly life shifts... One afternoon the family is celebrating a first birthday, the next morning we are grieving a terrible loss. All the more reason to truly cherish the moments we all have on this earth together.
Big families can be a blessing. My husband's family is huge... the sheer amount of people around to help and take pieces of this burden from those who are grieving the most is impressive. And each of these people has something unique to offer.
There's a sort of tier structure when it comes to loss within a family... There are those at the center of the crisis, that cling to one another and are supported from all around. Then those in that second ring of support are also being held by a third tier, etc. Then there are the many countless neighbors, acquaintances, friends-of-friends... people offering up prayers and positive thoughts. It's a tragically beautiful ripple effect that both spreads the memory of the one who has been lost, and creates a safety net for those left behind to mourn his death and celebrate his life.
Everybody handles grief differently, everybody has a role to play in the process of navigating out of it. After the last few days I believe more than ever that God gives us the kind of people we need in the moments we need them. Some people are good leaders, some are organizers, some people clean, some people feed, some cry with us, some hold us up, and still some are just so wonderfully skilled at finding joy and peace in the midst of mourning.
Grief comes in waves. It is exhausting, but sleep is elusive. Nothing can fix it, or make it go away... though food and family seem to help.
Babies make it better, if only for a few seconds... Something about their innocence and how oblivious and carefree they are seems to lighten the burden and bring smiles to faces, even if just briefly. Grief has a way of showing us what truly matters in our lives... And what's just noise.