It is amazing how fast this summer is flying by us all. I know I am not the only one that is feeling like summer is half over and that half of the things on the list to do are not done.
I started a post on the night of July 4th, but traveling took its toll that day and it did not get completed. The night was a good one of serious reflection so I apologize for it being late, but here it is none the less.
We spent the night in Joliet, IL, leaving OH following the death of Frank’s Dad. It had been a crazy week for us, visiting with family each day, and trying to make a lot of decisions in a short amount of time. Any time there is a death in a family, it will cause an upheaval, and this one was no exception. Trying to pull together lots of information, and make arrangements quickly was the focus of the week. We also spent a lot of time with family that we do not see often, including Frank’s grandmother, and Frank’s 16 year old brother.
We were lucky to spend a short evening with our friends the Venesile’s. This family has traveled a life path similar to our own – their son Noah was hit by a car last year and suffered a brain injury. Frank and I visited them in OH last fall, and we have kept in touch with Noah’s amazing recovery. When we met with them this visit, the plan was to watch Noah play baseball. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate, and instead we had a short dinner and a visit at their home. Our Tommy and Frank’s brother Ryan are still talking about their wonderful dogs. Frank and I continue to be delighted at this young man’s recovery, and glory in the teasing and sassiness he showed us during our short time with him. He is a charming boy, and we look forward to watching him continue to make amazing progress in his recovery.
Our time in OH came quickly to an end as we needed to return back home to daily life. A last minute decision was made that enabled us to bring Ryan back home to Minnesota for a visit, and our children were ecstatic. Our stop in Joliet meant finding something for dinner, and hopefully some information that would allow me to keep our promise of finding some fireworks for the kids to watch.
Thankfully there were at least a few restaurants open that evening, and we ate quickly to ensure that there was enough swimming time for Tommy before the fireworks started. We were lucky that as we headed back to the hotel we could see families pulling out chairs and parking near the local airport, and we thought that might be a good spot for us to try as well.
We joined the other folks from Joliet and parked our car at the regional airport. Tommy immediately raced out of the car and joined a group of kids and Dads throwing a football back and forth in a field. Frank, Ryan and I sat back in the car, glancing back and forth at the fireworks that could be seen in the distance from other cities. One of the cars near us turned up the radio, and God Bless America could be heard by all.
As the show started, I began thinking about all of the families that were sitting near us, and how we truly do not know what other people may be facing each day – cancer, divorce, poverty, illness – there are just so many things that could go wrong for people, and often a glance or casual conversation will not reveal those pains. As the light dimmed further, and the blue, gold and red fireworks began to reflect off of the windshield, I glanced over at Ryan. At first look, he is like any other 16 year old hanging out with adults at a fireworks show. But inside, this child has hit bottom. His father has just died, and he is struggling to come to terms with that reality. He could be anyone, any of us, at any time.
Without warning, life can, and often does, change in a heartbeat.
I looked over at Frank, and as he glanced between the fireworks and his phone, I thought about how truly blessed we are every day. We live in a nice home, we have food on the table, we can go out to eat once in a while, and we can, if needed, cross the country during a family emergency, and be with people that need us. Many people cannot say that. Many people may not have a huge life changing trauma impacting their lives, but that is not the only way that a life can be blown apart.
We are very lucky people - we are together. We laugh every day. We engage with people that may need support from us. We teach that life trauma does not have to be the end of life; that life continuously changes, and that life can still be lived if we can find the pieces of joy that are lurking around the corners for us.
Sometime they just take a while to identify. Sometimes, you have to accept the small joys to find the bigger ones.
I am humbled to be able to talk to so many people each week that just want to know how we are doing. Each time I get to answer an email or a post from another trauma survivor, I am blessed. Each time we get to present in front of a group, and talk about how we continue to make choices to move forward, and work hard each day to not dwell on the hardships of our path, we are honored.
Each hug we grant, each tear that is shed is important to us. Each one represents a moment of pain that can be supported by our experiences.
It is why we continue to be outside our family unit, and posting often, and making appearances.
It is because we want to give back, to all of you, for what all of you, have given to us.
Please share our story as you see fit. We would love to hear from you, and from others, as we continue to laugh through each day.