I have had an unbelievable weekend. I wouldn't have ever chosen such a weekend for myself had my sons not died. That's an honest truth. Strangely enough that honestly sad truth is no longer devestating. It is what it is...and I can appreciate it for just that.
As I sat at the kitchen table last night with Catherine and Sarah, two amazingly beautiful women, I was struck by something I had heard at the Compassionate Friends National Conference a day earlier. We parents of dead children tend to spend so much time longing for what we lost, feeling sad, angry, guilty, whatever. And that's ok. But we can (and maybe should) spend some time each day thinking about those people and things that have come into our lives BECAUSE our children died. And maybe, we can even feel a little bit grateful for them. And I do.
Let me tell you about Catherine...the other Catherine. :o) She makes you feel as though you have been friends forever. She's a master gardener with a wicked sense of humor. She knits and beads like it's second nature. And you should see her with her kids. You can tell there is so much love in her home that you can't help but smile when you are there. Her children are beautiful. Alexander is smart and funny and adorable. Catherine is going to have to beat the girls off with a stick soon, I am sure. And Chloe...oh my...what a sweetheart. As we were driving the 10 miles back to our hotel, Sam told us three times, in a very sad voice, "I miss Chloe already." She smiles at you and your heart just melts...she is beautiful. And Sam now tells me he has TWO girlfriends...Little Ashley from daycare...and now Little Chloe. [sigh]
And gorgeous Sarah. She didn't laugh at me when I told her it felt weird to actually meet her and Catherine. She "got it." I'm so glad she "got it." She is a beautiful spirit with an outward sense of calm. I can see how easy it might be for people to take her for granted...to mistake her quiet and peaceful outward appearance for "healed" or "over it." But since I know her story, I know the truth. And in knowing the truth, it's easy to see her sadness...and her love. She's so kind, so loving, so open. I wish the world would treat her with kid gloves so she won't ever lose that.
We drank wine. We ate pizza. We toured Catherine's house...which is gorgeous even in it's mid-construction state. We talked and talked. But there were moments of silence as well. Like old friends, we didn't feel that awkward need to fill up those moments. I think we all knew what we were thinking when (at least some of) those moments happened. We didn't need to explain it to each other. I think at some point we were all thinking, "Where would I be today, instead of here, if..."
Life is an amazing journey. And the magic isn't in the destination. The magic is along the path. And I'm so glad I am not alone on this path...but at the same time I wish I was alone. Nobody should have to make this journey, least of all these two women who, I can honestly say, I love like sisters.
I feel lighter.
I went into this weekend coming from a few weeks of feeling...well...not so great.
I saw some interesting presentations at the conference and I met two friends who I wouldn't met had we not made the trip.
Lorraine Ash, author of Life Touches Life, said in a workshop, "There is a certain importance to having someone bear witness to your story." I think that's why I continue to blog. There IS a certain importance to writing it all down...all the confusion and insanity that runs around in my head. But there is also a certain importance to having someone actually read and know my story too. And for me, knowing that there are people here who I can trust with my story makes it that much more healing of a place. I wish I didn't know any of you...but I'm so glad I do.
I will blog more about the conference during this week. But first I will take some time to digest the experience. If I try to talk about it now, I fear it will lack perspective and be an oversimplistic description of what I learned. Right now, I think I just want to savor the lightness of being that I'm feeling. So I'm going to go play Thomas the Tank Engine with Sam and try to distract him from missing his new girlfriend. :o)