Yesterday, I celebrated my sweet Sarah’s 13th birthday, wracked with profound grief. Sarah transitioned to Heaven early in December after contracting viral myocarditis. It was such a shock to our family, friends and the community at large. People from around the world – literally – were praying with us as this sweet child battled an awful virus that attacked her heart. And those same people have supported us in our grief.
The initial shock is beginning to fade, and I find myself living in the reality of the grief. The loss. The gut-punch of never seeing her in this realm, yet feeling her presence on a soul-level.
Grief produces a trauma all of its own. My body feels heavy. My heart is heavy. My brain is foggy. There are real, physical aspects of grief. #SarahStrong Click To Tweet
Vocabulary.com shares: “The word grief comes from the Latin word gravare, which means to make heavy. Gravare itself comes from the Latin word gravis, which means weighty.”
Makes sense as to why I feel so “heavy.” Some days it feels like my legs are so weighted down it seems I can’t move them. Taking a deep breath, I feel the weight of the grief.
What I’ve learned in this process is that grief is really the death of hope. The loss of the one you love; the loss of the dream of being together. Grief really is the loss of the hope of the life you envisioned with this person. #grief #SarahStrong Click To Tweet
The definition of grief is “deep sorrow,” according to the Oxford Dictionary, and Wikipedia says, “Grief is a natural response to loss. It is the suffering one feels when something or someone the individual loves is taken away.”
I’m asked how I’m doing, how my daughter is doing. How the rest of the family is doing. And honestly, there are some days, I just don’t know. So, I’m honest. Day-to-day. Many times, moment-by-moment.
I have to give a huge shout-out to my daughter, who honored Sarah’s birthday in the most amazing way.
Sarah loved Starbucks, and with each test and procedure and IV line that poor child endured during her battle, she was promised a Starbucks. As you can imagine, that sweet girl earned dozens of her favorite beverages over the course of her brief hospital stay.
She also loved to “pay it forward,” and bugged her mom numerous times to surprise the car behind them by purchasing their drink.
So, Sarah’s birthday was giving the gift of a free beverage to patrons, a way to make them smile, along with a card sharing Sarah’s story and her philosophy on life: “Appreciate a unique cloud, sip a Starbucks, paint a picture, pet a dog, or pay it forward.”
I had the privilege to join my daughter and son-in-law at Sarah’s favorite Starbucks, and saw dozens of people walk out with their beverage paid in honor of Sarah. The staff did an excellent job and were so supportive. They decorated a table in red and blue, the awareness colors for myocarditis. There were balloons for her birthday! And smiles, hugs and tears.
One of the first people to greet us was a man about my age. He was so overwhelmed as to how Sarah’s parents came to celebrate her 13th birthday, and Rachel shared Sarah’s story.
Then, he broke down.
“I recently lost my grandson,” he cried.
And, we cried with him. Here we are, total strangers, all connected by this heavy emotion: grief.
He shared that his grandson died mid-November, not too long before we lost Sarah. Just a baby, a one-year-old. A premature infant that struggled and survived and was brought down by an infection from an undetected problem at birth.
He hugged me and said, “I don’t know what is worse. My grief, or watching my son and his wife in their pain.”
And, I lost it. The tears flowed, and, honestly, they didn’t stop all day.
I looked him in the eye, tears rolling down my face, and said, “I know. I know.”
And without saying a word, we both wished we didn’t know.
For a brief moment, the grief wasn’t weighing me down like a boulder. Sarah’s “pay it forward” birthday was scheduled at the right day, at the right time and in the right place.
There are no coincidences.
This man left knowing others feel his pain, live his pain, and he could share his pain.
As emotional as that shared moment was, there was a little peace knowing this: that while we experience the death of hope, while we feel the weight of grief, somehow we will make it: Moment-by-moment, day-by-day, knowing that while this particular death of hope feels so raw and horrible, one day we will be comforted that the pain we feel is because of the deep love that originally brought us such great hope.
Happy birthday, Sarah! Though your special day was celebrated in a way we never dreamed, your life continues to bring hope and love to others.
Love you so much, Boo Bear! Mema
© Lynne Cobb – 2020