Tomorrow is the three year anniversary of our daughter, Kayli’s, death following a 13 year war with Ganglioneuroblastoma. 3 years. I could sit and tell you how we have grieved and grown and changed in that time and it certainly is true. But, I want you to know that while we are different versions of ourselves now as a result of her passing, we aren’t living our days being defined by our loss. We are moving forward in life with a Kayli-size hole in our family that feels familiar now. Familiar doesn’t equal comfortable or happy with...I refer to it as being used to its presence in our lives. We embrace both the crashing waves days of grief and the gentle surf days of laughter and joy as we talk about Kayli’s shenanigans or things she loved. The key is to stand in the water and find the beauty in both. Tears are cleansing and healing and a deep, deep expression of love. Please don’t fix the sad of a grieving person; hand them a Kleenex instead and the gift of your presence without words. Stand in the water with them. Enjoy the gentle moments of laughter and memories as well. Share a funny story of their loved one, say their person’s name, acknowledge the journey as their journey and not one defined by how you feel it should look. This is living the ebb and flow with them. This is what the grief journey is like.
Here’s the thing...you aren’t defined by one single event in your life that was either catastrophic or euphoric. Life is a series of moments and true living is done in the little moments, not the colossal ones. At the end of life, you are measured by one thing alone...who you are before Christ. This is the only decision you can make that defines where you stand when you take your last breath. Kayli said this so well herself in her goodbye video. I encourage you to click over to her videos tabs and let her tell you how you can know where you are going after you die. She filmed this a couple of months before her death. She had the benefit of knowing that she was going to die. This is not granted to most and today could be your last day...are you really ready for that?
Thank you all for continuing to pray for our family as we move forward into another year of living life here without the presence of our only daughter. Through the moments of laughter (which seemed like would never come again) and the moments of ugly tears (which still spill out at the most unexpected, inconvenient times), we move into each new day. Michael continues to be the leader and rock of our family. He spends time with Jesus early each day and prays over the hearts of his family. He and Caleb work hard to provide financially for our family through the gift of their masonry skills. I am so very thankful for them! Caleb is 22 now and surpassed Kayli in age this year. It was a bittersweet day for sure. He is a big guy with an even bigger heart! He serves God with his musical ability and serves as a drummer on the worship team of his church. It is exciting to see what God is developing in his life for his future. Luke is 12 now and has had a very difficult year. He was diagnosed with a rare connective tissue disorder after several months of testing. He has been getting treatment and has leveled out to a better place than he was last fall. We are so thankful for our fabulous doctors at Akron Children’s that are helping him, just like they did Kayli. In spite of his health challenges, he has continued to excel in his piano playing. My boys are simply amazing musicians which I can take absolutely no credit for. Baxter, Kayli’s little dog, just turned six and continues to bring so much love and joy to our family. I think he believes he is a very furry person and not a dog at all! What about me? I am a broken mama who is trying my best to lean into Jesus each day and serve Him by taking care of my family. I continue to exercise daily (superb stress reliever), meet with some awesome ladies to dig deeper into God’s word, and most importantly...be available. Caleb’s pastor impressed upon me through a sermon the importance of being available to God in spite of yourself and your imperfections. People are more important than a schedule and so I have determined to be available for God’s use with my days. It’s easy to be available on the sunshiny days and feel like you have made a difference somehow. But God wants me Even on the ugly tears,feel-sorry-for-myself days. He uses me in spite of myself. He will use you, too, if you give your life completely to Him. Be available.