How is it possible that we have endured a year without you? How is it possible that we woke up each day and put one foot in front of the other when our hearts were aching? How is it possible to find laughter in the middle of grief? How is it possible to continue living when you are not part of this world any longer?
The answer was right in front of us with every sun rise and every sun set. We will choose the gift of life, even on the hardest days of loss, disappointment, and grief. We will continue living because you so delicately showed us what it means to live against all odds. As much as we didn’t want to change our lives, we had to. Sarah, Joakim, and I all took on the challenge to continue living despite the greatest loss, the loss of you.
What would I tell you living 365 days without you?
· We got through all the “firsts” without you, some were harder than others. I anticipate Father’s Day being one of the hardest since that is the day you died on last year. I have learned that time doesn’t really matter when it comes to grief. You will forever live in my heart, and living each day without you takes a certain kind of strength.
· We are still standing as one family. I was afraid that grief would rip us apart. I should have known we were a stronger unit than that. The secret lays in letting each of us grieve in our own way. I thought I would feel resentment towards Joakim and Sarah, but it just didn’t happen. It has been hard to watch your sister through grief, and how terribly hard it is for her to even start feeling the pain from losing you. I have had to learn to stand by her, and realize that there is no time table and right way of grieving you.
· Grief is unpredictable. It comes when you least expect it. The things that trigger grief can be a memory, a smell, a song, a touch, a difficult day, a difficult person. It comes in all forms, and holding it in will never work for a long period of time. It will eventually find its way out.
· I have had to define myself once again, as a mom, as a wife, as myself. It’s in no way completed, it might in fact never be done. I have found joy in having more time with Sarah, and in spending time with the incredible person she is. I have found joy in sharing things with your dad we just couldn’t do together before. I have found joy in work. I have in fact found myself stronger in the workplace knowing that nothing we all seem to so easily get worked up about truly matters. Sometimes I have this sentence running through my head “no one is going to die today”. It’s not something I can share with the world, but it puts things in perspective. It does make me feel like an old lady a little.
· Beautiful friendships. My friends who have stood strong beside me. I can’t say enough good things about them, and I hope they all know who they are. The act of kindness we have witnessed from near and far is simply amazing, and we could never have gone through this past year without them. When I needed it the most, I have gotten the best messages about you. Friends sharing a memory or a dream about you. A friend making sure we had Minion wrapping paper for Christmas, anonymous flowers and cards outside on our front porch, strong hugs and tears together. Friends who are not afraid to speak your name, friends who miss you, friends who love you deeply. The power of love is amazing.
· Growing up I was not a nature person. The thought of going in to the Swedish forest or camping was never appealing to me. I have always been a city girl, but I do find you in nature. I find you in the beauty of the sky, in cloud formations, in the stars, in the mountains, in the ocean, and in all the butterflies surrounding me in the summer time. I always say “thank you, Jacob” when a butterfly passes by. I hope you hear me.
· It’s so important to remember you and do right by you. I have found a lot of your legacy is at Children’s. The place you spent so much time at. I still make time to volunteer, make speaking engagements, and continue to further parent and family engagement. I love that your legacy continues to live on at the hospital. The video we created for patient safety continues to be shown to every new employee at Children’s, and your message is loud and clear.
· Last but not least, you changed me. I know what direction I was heading in before you entered my life. You stopped me in my tracks, and I had to re-evaluate everything in my life in order to be your mom. I decided to give it my absolute best, and I will never regret that. When the rest of the world was wondering how we did it, we shared the beautiful secret of knowing that the time with you would be the most beautiful time of our lives. When people thought it was hard to live in the hospital and endure emergencies, I knew it was the easy part. Living without you would be the really hard part. To not wake up with you each morning would be the really difficult part of life.
Last picture of our two children. I know the tube might be disturbing to some, but for me I just see so much beauty in this picture.
Sweet Jacob, thanks for helping me find strength to go on living. I guess it was never a choice. You gave your life it all. How could I do anything less being your mom?
S Sweetest, Jacob, I love you to the moon and back,