"Don’t expect everyone to understand your journey. Especially if they’ve never had to walk your path." - Anonymous
A few months ago we had a conversation with a friend and there was something in that conversation that told me they know a glimpse of our reality. They are a beautiful family full of love for their children. For years I have watched their family from the outside, wondering how they get through each day, wondering what their life is like and knowing that I would never be able to understand what a day is for them. I’ve admired the strength it takes them each day to face every new challenge. As we chatted about their son Nate, who is autistic, he shared how lucky we were to have such a huge network of family, friends, and support. We do, we are truly blessed, with really amazing people in our lives but even with all those amazing people there are still times that can be so lonely, abandoned, misunderstood, and that we still feel like the world has moved on. As I expressed that to him, there was a moment where we both understood each others perspective. And he nodded as he said, “I get it. I’m there with you.” Because even though our journey’s are so different… they are also very much the same in that we each understand we have different perspectives than the world. We are in this club that we didn’t ask to be a part of. When life doesn’t turn out the way we imagined we look at life from a different perspective.
Perspective. You’ve been on my mind for months. You always bring me back to a place of internal struggle. You balance me when I’m feeling frustrated that others lives go on that the world doesn’t understand. I’ve searched for a good definition of perspective and I just can’t seem to find one that fits. Months ago, I started writing on perspective but I found that I writing was out of anger. I was angry and the words that met paper weren’t words to be proud of. I was frustrated. Frustrated that the world can’t begin to understand my perspective. Because the things that affect me are different than what may affect you. Angry that the world will never really understand what a grieving parent feels because unless you’ve walked in these shoes it is impossible to understand. Frustration that because I’ve been through the unimaginable that my perspective is different than yours and no one will ever quite understand my perspective. Because sometimes no matter how amazing my support network is, grief is a very lonely feeling that nobody can understand what we go through. Because some of my lowest lows are when people just don’t understand us. Because I’ve built a wall to things that may seem small to me but are still big to you. Because things that are small to you can be huge to me. Because things that people say can literally break my heart but to them it’s an ordinary conversation that I can’t expect them to understand how their words can affect me. Because I feel guilty about that and I am learning how to cope and interpret my perspective and still finding my path to understanding other perspectives too. Because I want to be the person I was before that is understanding and compassionate to every situation and not fall into a pit of my own self pity.
I miss Nate every day. I think of him in everything I do. He pops into my mind in the smallest ways. I wonder how our life would be with him here? I watch Drew mature and Kaylee grow and wonder where Nate would be. We sing in the car, play outside, eat dinner, register for sports, or watch a movie together and he’s on my mind. I miss his mischievous smiling face. I’ve said it before, I just want to run my fingers through his thick hair or feel the “spikes” as he would call it after he got his hair “cut like Dad’s”. It’s the little things that I miss most. From childhood we dream about what our life will be. We never dream that it will involve the loss of our child. We never dream of a life of heartbreak. From the moment I found out I was pregnant with Nathan, I dreamed of what his life would be. I dreamed of him walking and talking, riding bikes, going to school, hanging out with friends, having his brother as his best friend. I even imagined the trouble he would find and the parenting challenges we would face. I imagined Nate as a father himself. I still sometimes find myself dreaming of Nate’s future when I dream of Drew and Kaylee’s and in an instant am hit with a hard reality check of my life. How does someone let go of their dreams for themselves and let go of the dreams they had for their child? How do parents move forward with a piece of their hearts missing? The truth is that we can’t expect answers and we can’t expect anyone to understand. I often find myself in a pit of internal struggle of realizing that no one will ever fully understand what it is like to walk in our shoes and the battle to accept that reality as well. So the challenge continues to be understanding that perspective.
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Some days I am quiet and I am taking in the world. I tune in deeper to the emotions of our souls. I love deeper. I laugh deeper. Every day Justin and I try to soak in every minute with Drew and Kaylee, to encourage them and love them and give them the happiest life we can possibly give. I don’t want to miss a second. I want to take in every moment because we really don’t know what tomorrow holds. I find I laugh at the little things much more than I used too. I let more blow over. I certainly have days that they test my patience, they break the rules, and leave me asking “Is it bedtime yet?” But even on those days I look back on the day and feel so grateful for another day I cherish immensely. Some days I can honestly say “I’m not okay but I’ll be okay.” Some days I just don’t want to be strong. Some days I’m overwhelmed by love and even laughter. Drew and Kaylee bring the biggest smiles to our faces so many times each day. They can leave me feeling full and complete. They can leave me rolling in laughter. The joy that they bring me also leaves me with sadness wishing I had Nate here to bring me those things too. The good days, I often find guilt in enjoying the day. It’s emotional to have joyous days with my family and still miss Nate beyond measure. He is on my mind all the time. Some days I have to stop and look around at my life. It’s not at all what I planned it to be. How is that explained for one to understand what it’s like to wake up one day, without your son, and be the same person you were the day before? It’s been a year and a half since losing Nate and I am still changing every day. I choose to be better and I choose to wake up each day and make what matters most to me count even when it hurts beyond words.
I am choosing to learn compassion for the world’s perspective and trying to find the balance in understanding that the world will never understand what a day in my shoes is like or understand our souls. The key is to allow myself to accept the differences in each of our lives and be okay with that. I’m learning to not let my perspective leave me frustrated with the world but to let it lead me to beauty. My heart aches for Heaven and it aches for Nate but my heart also loves to be filled with joy by this world. There is not a Band-Aid that can heal my heart but there is a God that has given me hope and the daily desire to seek joy.
All My Love,