Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"I'm here to bring hope," said my 10 year-old

I spent the weekend thinking deeply about my life’s purpose, immersed in Oprah’s Live the Life You Want weekend in Miami. I came home and was sharing some of my experiences with a friend on the phone when I noticed my son was listening intently. He’ll be 11 next month and has always been a deep and sensitive soul, especially with me.  

I was sharing that Oprah began with the words, “Why are you here? What are you here to do in this life?”

My son looked into my eyes and said, “I know why I’m here.”

I stopped my conversation. That’s the kind of thing that completely gets your full attention as a parent.  I paused and said, “You do? Tell me why you are here.”

“I’m here to bring hope.”

 My heart swelled. What a statement for anyone, let alone a 10 year-old. I waited and he continued.

“When Jacob died, you needed hope. And when I was born, I gave you hope. So I know I’m here to bring hope.”

He was right.  He was conceived 5 months after my baby, Jacob, had died from a fatal birth defect. I was ready to try again and I felt confident that things would be ok this time around, yet I was still grieving. My whole world was shaken to the core. I didn’t know how anyone could really recover from such a loss. I felt like there would always be a giant gaping hole in my heart that would never be better. I continued to do my own work before and during (and well after) the pregnancy with him, but he certainly grew in the sadness I was experiencing, along with the waves of fear that things might not be all right.

We’ve talked about his birth. We’ve talked about the baby brother he never knew who came before him.  We’ve talked about how much I wanted to have him and how loved he was and always will be. But I had forgotten the story I had told him about hope. But he hadn’t.

I believe it was Oprah this weekend who said, “Hope is the simple belief that things can change. Despair is that tomorrow will be another version of today.”

I needed things to change. I needed to believe my body could have a healthy baby. I needed to know in my heart that I wouldn’t always be shrouded in a cloud of grief. I needed to see the beauty in every day moments. Honestly, it would have been easy to just have thrown my hands up in the air, curled into a ball and never look up again- except that I had another child already, a little boy who was 3 1/2 who needed me. And so I got up and made breakfast instead of staying in bed on those cold Indiana winter days while it rained or snowed or was just dark and grey outside. And, true to my nature, I searched for answers so that tomorrow wouldn’t be the same as today.

These moments always contain choices. We can be defined by the sadness of the story or the hope. We can allow something that happens to us to be the reason we stop trying or the reason why we must propel ourselves forward. Every situation, no matter how dire it seems, contains the opportunity for defining ourselves and our path forward. And we have the opportunity with our children to help them define their own stories as a hero’s journey, no matter what happened by the stories we tell to them.

We can rewrite those stories so that we are the hero. We can rewrite those stories so that they define us in ways that help us to grow. And we can begin doing that today.

I’m here to bring you hope. Hope for you. Hope for your family. 

"Because it is always darkest before the dawn and the sun always rises." Oprah

Sunrise pictures courtesy from my Facebook friends. Thanks all!

Sunrise in Satellite Beach, FL, courtesy Kim Bannister
Sunrise over Albuquerque, NM, courtesy of Deborah Barkoff
Sunrise in Clearwater (entitled, When You Wake Up on Red!) courtesy of Susan Stroemel Graham
Sunrise in NY from a bus, courtesy Clare Uppenbrink
Sunrise Satellite Beach, FL, courtesy of Kim Bannister
Sunrise Punta Gorda, FL, courtesy of Cecilia Wilhelm
South Nevada in August, courtesy Teresa Lewis Lass

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