Founder Friday -please meet my amazing dad & my fabulous daughter.
Last week, my uncle, my dad's big brother, protector and friend, went home to heaven. Unexpected and such a shock, death is, for us on left here on earth, sad, crushing, fog-inducing, and filled with tears for our loss. Navigating grief doesn't come with a set of guidelines or order and is so challenging to understand as an adult. Explaining these feelings and emotions to our children can be even more challenging.
The day after he passed I sat the kids down at the dinner table with another ground turkey meal plated in front of them, and simply said "Papa's big brother went to heaven yesterday and he's really really sad."
My girl, Libby Jayne, my feeler of all the feelings & the one who connects to the emotions of all around her, instantly said, "Mommy, can we go right now and see Papa? Can we go give him a hug and tell him that we are so so sorry that he is really sad."
How could I argue with a mostly angelic face who suggested what I had been wanting to do myself for two days.
Libby ran and grabbed her kid-sized scissors and a mason jar with water and cut some flowers from our yard and placed them in the mason jar.
I quickly grabbed a By Your Side notecard to write a note to my dad. We left the dinner dishes on the table, and headed over to see my parents.
And as I sat at the stoplight to try and write something "deeply touching" I realized all I had to write on the card was, "Dad- love you always and forever. Jen."
The cards' printed words were enough.
"I'll grab your hand, stay here by your side and never leave. I may not have much to give, but I can promise to always be by your side."
What followed after we arrived and after the hugs, tears, and flower giving was an evening of what we all needed.....
Sidewalk chalk hearts began to cover the driveway and laughter escaped from our mouths. The tears dried and were replaced with popsicles and glasses of wine. This picture of the two of them show how bright moments can truly happen during deep sadness. The moment you feel love. You feel the embrace and the warmth of feeling loved.
Friends, whatever loss or life situation you are facing, open your heart to those around you. Your people want to you to know that you are not alone. They want to be like Libs. Showing up in semi- dry swimsuits (me) and taco sauce still on their cheek (kids) to give you a hug and a mason jar full of garden picked flowers.
Just like my kiddos needed to let Papa know that they saw his sadness, and just as you want to do with your friend across the country when tragedy hits....it doesn’t matter if you have experienced a specific pain of loss. They wanted to stand next to and hug on their papa. Standing together through the trials of life.
From our By Your Side Poem
We were meant to do life side by side. And when we do it makes us stronger. It makes empathy seeps through our souls and take home in our very being.
Because then we can truly look at one another and say “me too.”
I may not understand your hurting,
It may not look like mine,
But, “me too.”
I'll grab your hand,
stay here by your side and never leave.
I may not have much to give, but I can promise,
to always be by your side.”
- Arielle Estoria
The greatest gift my kids gave their Papa came from whatever they had - words, flowers, hugs, and backyard full of chalk hearts.
The greatest gift that you can give to someone who needs hope and encouragement, is exactly the same… an unspoken long embrace, words of encouragement, a meaningful piece of jewelry that they wear wherever they go, and yes even chalk heart drawings, and hand picked flowers.
These moments will be the warm embrace and bright spot during times of sadness.