aunt, brave, camino de santiago, family, friends, gratitude, grief, half-marathons, marriage, moment, pilgrim, relationships, Walking

A Beautiful Life

While talking with my colleague the topic of grief came up. She mentioned how a mutual acquaintance once said something to the effect of, “one grief story is one grief story.” In other words, no two are alike. I agree, but it also highlights the loneliness of grief. No one, anywhere, can understand exactly what I’m going through. Grief is a lonely road.

However, there are others who are on similar journeys – not the same path, but close enough that we walk near each other at certain times. When the paths cross or turn so that we’re walking parallel, we can even hold hands sometimes. I have a friend who is on one of those paths. Our grief is about infertility, but the journeys we experience are different. Despite the differences, we’ve found ourselves walking this stage of life together.

We pray for each other. We vent to each other. We confess to each other. We lean on each other. We send messages of encouragement to each other. We joke together, laugh together and cry together. I am grateful for her authenticity in our relationship.

Recently she asked me a question I know she’s probably wanted to ask for a while. I admire her willingness to ask – her bravery. I’m sure others have wanted to ask this same question and I’m grateful they haven’t. She has earned the right to ask the question and because of that, she has also earned the right to an answer.

She asked:

Is there anything that you could do now so that you won’t regret not doing later?

At first I was thinking about life in general, then I realized what she was getting at:

Will you regret not considering a donor egg?
Will you regret not looking into IVF?
Will you regret not asking more about adoption?
Will you regret not trying a little harder?

Perhaps you’ve wondered the same questions. It took me only moments to respond:

As sad as it can be sometimes, I truly feel at peace with the choices we’re making…I don’t feel led to do anything that we’re not doing right now. I know it probably doesn’t make sense to most people but we really are at peace. That doesn’t mean I’m not sad or grieving, but I do trust our choices and believe that God is walking the road less travelled with us.

After a few texts back and forth I found myself saying, “I really do have a beautiful life.”

It’s true. I do. It’s not the one I planned for. It’s not the one I expected, but it is beautiful.

Recently I spent an evening with our nephews playing bey blades and walking around the cul-de-sac and racing cars and playing basketball. On Monday I splashed in a small blow up pool with our niece and helped her s l o w l y walk down the slip n’ slide. Two days ago I laughed until my face hurt while on FaceTime with our youngest niece because she has the cutest laugh ever. Then, later that day, I laughed while our twin nieces were doing some crazy comedy routine over the phone that involved deep breathing, a doll chair and farting noises. Yesterday I had my first “no assistance needed” text conversation with our oldest niece – full of “yes” and emojis. What more could I ask for?!

A week from tomorrow I’m running my thirteenth half marathon with two amazing women and with my husband and dear friend cheering me on despite the early hour. A week from Tuesday my husband is driving my mom and I to Chicago (another early morning) so that we can get on a plane to Spain in order to walk 130 miles. The day after I get from Spain we are picking up the newest member of the Brock pack (more on him and his ridiculously cute squishy face later!).

I work for people who understand the need for pilgrimage and support three weeks away from the office before my year anniversary. I work with people who understand grief and it’s fickle ways and give me space when I need it and offer humor when the time is right.

I have friends who respond with just the right words on days that I’m struggling to keep it together. I have a friend who knows that a concert on a work night is just what the doctor ordered. I am still invited to graduation open houses even though my official role as youth minister is over.

I really do have a beautiful life.

The journey of grief really is a lonely one. Thankfully I’m reminded on a regular basis that I don’t have to walk it alone. Sometimes that requires me to reach out and ask for help. Sometimes that requires me to say yes when I really just want to say no. Most importantly, this journey is teaching in me how to take one step at a time. I try not to think too much about the future, but instead I focus on the moment I’m currently in. And this moment right now – the one where I’m alive and writing with Denali nearby – this moment is beautiful.



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