Inside: This is real life – joy and pain, beauty and suffering, uncertainty and delight, messily woven together to form a beautiful whole.
TW: grief, child loss, suicide loss
I’ve spent this weekend in Calgary, AB, with my friend Kathy Escobar who flew in from Colorado so that we could hug and talk for hours, and meet face to face for the first time. Our beautiful, creative, loved boys, Jairus and Jared, died by suicide 5 days apart from each other, October 2019.
Folks who followed our work online connected us and it has been an incredible gift to journey together through one of the most horrible experiences a parent could be forced to live and breathe through.
As Kathy shared on her Instagram this morning, “I wish we had met another way, but alas, this is our story. And we are making it one day at a time, living and grieving, joy and pain, all tangled up together.” #griefhasnorules
She flew home early this morning and this afternoon I’ll head over to support another friend for a few days (also in Calgary). This longtime friend “feels like she is breaking apart at the seams” as she put it.
Up close our lives can sometimes feel like mess alone. Only mess. Nothing but mess.
But when we step back, shift our gaze from “focused awareness to open attention”*, willing to see the bigger picture, take the longer view, expand our experience to allow for curiosity and hopeful possibility, we witness the truth that there is so much beauty here too. We feel safe enough to pay attention to the beauty that surrounds us.
It seems impossible – how can it be? It pisses us off. We understandably rage against this reality. It’s unfair, it’s unkind. We don’t want the pain, the struggle, the incredibly stretching hard stuff. But this is real life – joy and pain, beauty and suffering, uncertainty and delight, messily woven together to form a beautiful whole.
Kathy and I are gifts to each other. Our boys were gifts to us and their circles of friends and family. My struggling friend came to bring my vision for Jairus’ memorial to life when he died (along with the help of this friend) and I could barely eat or breathe and now I get to go be by her side in this season.
This is beauty in the flesh.
NOTE: “Focused awareness to open attention” is a phrase Kimberly Ann Johnson uses in her book (referral link), Call of the Wild.