I was standing in line at the grocery store, and I was reading the fronts of the magazines. I saw a picture of Kate Gosselin. "Oh my goodness!" I thought, "I can't believe she's raising all those kids by herself."
And then I laughed. Out loud.
What was I thinking? She only has one more child than I do and hers are older than mine!
But that brief moment in the store gave me insight into everyone around me, and for that I'm thankful. It made me realize that things appear far different from the outside looking in.
It's been two years since Bryan died, and we're doing well. Our lives have changed dramatically, and will continue to change over the next two years, and the two years after that. Some of the change has been inevitable, some of it has been the result of my prayerful decisions. All of it has moved us forward. One of the biggest challenges we face now is the reaction of others to our situation.
"You have how many kids?"
"Seven. Six boys. One girl."
"Wow! Are you going to have more?" (or, alternatively...) "What does your husband do?"
"I'm a widow."
And then, the reaction. Best: "I'm sorry." Okay: "Oh." Worst: Anything longer than the first two.
Because I get it. It's sad. Seven kids. No dad. Cue the violins. No one would choose something like this. But, it's our LIFE, and quite honestly, we spend most of our time happy, or at the very least "normal." There are tears, but they're usually of the "he destroyed my six day Lego project" type. Life goes on, and especially with growing and active children, grief just can't stay around for long.
As the two year anniversary of Bryan's death approached, I did a little investigative work with my kids. Did they want to "do something" to remember the date? Ummm, no. Turns out we are not a memorializing family.
We do remember Bryan, of course. He comes up in conversations all the time. But we rarely talk about the sad stuff. We remember things he said, things he did. The kids are particularly fond of the things that make them laugh. They want their memories of their dad to be happy, and I'm okay with that. More than okay, actually. I know that it's exactly what Bryan would have wanted.
Bryan was all about moving forward. He was, actually, all about careening forward at break-neck speed and actively looking for ways to reach out to others. He wanted to squeeze every drop he could out of life, and he never let pain or grief stop him. He figured that death demonstrated that life was short, and that the departed would be honored to know that their loved ones were continuing to embrace life.
And we are embracing life.
But I understand that others don't understand. When you're on the outside looking in, life looks messy, scary, and sometimes sad. God gives grace for each moment, though, and with His grace comes joy and strength for the battle.
I want our family to share the blessing of God's provision for us with others. I want my kids to see that life goes on and that we need to do what we can to serve others. I want our family to be part of something bigger.
On that note, I've decided, because I believe it will honor Bryan and his embrace life and reach out philosophy, to begin half marathon training with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society Team in Training. (If you'd like to donate in Bryan's memory to fund research to combat blood cancer, you can click here.) I'll post more details on what led me to take this leap and on what I'll be doing and why. Until then, dear friends, embrace life, and remember, things look a lot better from the inside.