Even still there is joy.

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There’s a scene I’ve seen played out in countless movies and tv shows. Someone stands outside of a home, longingly peering into a dining room window. A warm amber glow radiates from inside as a cheerful family gathers around the table for a dinner that parallels Norman Rockwell’s iconic Thanksgiving painting (Freedom From Want). There is laughter. There is joy. It is a picture perfect moment. The outsider watches innocently while longing to have that moment in their own life, although they feel it is totally unattainable. Always just beyond the glass.

My life has often felt that way in the months that have passed since losing Aria. It’s such a challenge to avoid getting caught up in comparing ourselves to others. Social media makes this even harder because people often choose to only share the good and none of the messy stuff. It’s heart wrenching to scroll through dozens of seemingly “perfect” smiling family photos when you’ve been crying for your lost baby all afternoon. It’s also incredibly isolating.

Theodore Roosevelt once said “comparison is the thief of joy”, and he is absolutely right. It’s so easy to forget that every single one of us is broken. It is an unavoidable consequence of living in this world. We are all bound to be hurt in a major way. That’s not pessimism, its reality. So if you are feeling broken, please know that you are anything but alone. This whole world is hurting alongside you.

But one of the keys to finding joy is to shift your focus to the things you do have. The things that continue to make life worth living despite the things that break us. These are often hard to see when grief is raging the hardest, but I assure you they exist.

For me, I am grateful for the opportunity to have had Aria at all. Although I wish she could have stayed, I would rather have had her for a moment than to have never had the chance to know her. I feel honored that I was entrusted with the privilege of being her mother, as I know this was a task not just anyone could do. She was given to me because I had the strength to fight for her, to never give up on her, and to love her relentlessly for all of her days and beyond.

I am also grateful because my list does not end there. I have found so many beautiful things in this world over the last year, many of which are you – those who have chosen to follow our story and support us through this. You have been the light that shines on the path we are walking through life.

I’m broken, and my heart still bleeds, and yet I have joy. It’s miraculous and beautiful. It’s something I never imagined would be possible just under one year ago. I pray you find it too.

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