April 21, 2016
Everyone has that day. When everything changes. When the unthinkable happens. Your breath is taken away. Grief comes in so hard you aren’t sure how breathing will even be possible, getting out of bed, sending your kids to school or enjoy the feel of the sun on your face.
April 21 was a Thursday. I was with some of my favorite people, doing our favorite things. Weight lifting class. After it was over, we processing how we survived yet another “Anna” workout, I grabbed my phone before heading down to the showers. I had missed multiple phone calls and had texts screaming out at me that life would never be the same.
Our dear friends had lost a child that day. Other dear friends were gathering at their home. Other parts of the story would quickly unfold, making it hard to breathe.
These, my favorite people, literally helped me gather my shoes (tying them to my gym bag so I wouldn’t lose them), gather my bag and my jacket and whatever else I needed and got me down the stairs. I called a friend to take my youngest son so I could go to the house.
We were all together that day. Some very, very pregnant, about to have their own baby. Some were trying to figure out how to help the mother who needed to figure out what to do with a body who expected a baby to nurse soon. Pastors, all of the dads, friends needed to be present. We all were. Someone needed to get picked up at the airport, finding out on the phone that this death happened.
The sun was out that day. It was a glorious, actually SPRING day in Duluth. I wasn’t freezing even though I had been previously covered in sweat. It was sunny, the peepers were calling for the first time (frogs) and the grass was turning green. Nothing said death. Except everything did.
Grief: before that day I did not know what it was. I had never really entered into it with anyone. But that family did let me in that day. Let many of us in. And for that, we will never be disconnected, never too far away for a phone call or a prayer request.
Grief: my pregnant friend trying to process all that was happening around her, as she carried her own baby, due in just a few short weeks.
Grief: calling the garbage company and telling them to not complain about the extra trash, the overloaded cans since our friends were receiving meals daily, extra paper products were being used and a tragedy had happened.
Grief: laundry, library books and bathrooms, all needing attention since no one could function.
Grief: a sibling who would cry all day, without warning, without talking.
Grief: what doesn’t go away, even after 5 years.
Grief: “What are we going to do Sandi?” the mother asked me, holding her now lifeless son. “I don’t know but we are going to do it together.” I answered.
It has been 5 years.
I can’t help but think, as the world grieves many things these days, about one fact that grips me from 5 years ago.
When we grieved over this death, this child lost, we did not think about what we believed, how we approached politics nor religion. We did not question what happened or who was to blame. We did not argue on social media. We tried our best to grieve together because our love for one another, I think, was more important for a time.
I know many, on all sides of current events, who are grieving.
I wonder how this world might change if we, instead of blaming, calling names or focusing on the differences, tied one the others’ shoes to their gym bags.
If we simply grieved together.
This likely wouldn’t change the world. Wouldn’t bring back the dead. It didn’t on April 22, May 22 or even, in 2021. But I will tell you this: we might just learn how to love a bit deeper and yes, learn how to grieve more as a family than as enemies.