Grief is a faulty, smothering weight on our lives. So much gets lost. Naomi and I spend so much energy in survival mode that we often forget to celebrate. This weekend I drove to Chicago to see a collection of short plays, one of which, written by Ana. Her play was submitted and accepted. Her ideas, thoughts, and humor were on display for four packed audiences laughing and applauding. She taught me valuable lessons about pushing forward. Just for context, Naomi has a badly damaged shoulder (thanks mother nature) and couldn’t make it. She did, however, take in a dog for the weekend in need of a home. There is no end to her goodness.
Ana wrote the play while Jacob was sick, and saw it brought to life, in his death. While I diligently write my therapy, she lives hers daily. Ana has moved to Chicago, maintained her relationships, and cultivated new ones. She takes trains. She submits plays for approval. She puts herself out there for her world to discover.
Ana has taught me such a valuable lesson to keep moving forward. To move forward with a smile and integrity. She’s teaching me how to live by her actions. How do I know what she feels? I don’t. I also have little idea what life is like for an 18-year-old college student in 2022. Times have changed. From my perspective, life is so much harder on these kids than ever. Anxiety is higher. Awareness is higher. I grew up without pressure. My classmates were not competitors.
So often, the siblings are forgotten, unfairly and unintentionally, by grieving parents. While I spend so much energy supporting Ana’s grief process, I fail in recognizing her thriving. I didn’t worry Jacob at school. Maybe it was that he was more mature than me. Perhaps it was a male “thing,” or a first-born recognition. Ana was always protected. At times, perhaps I’ve been overprotective.
Ana has nothing to prove to me. She has nothing to prove to you or to Naomi. It’s nothing empirical that requires an equal charge on both sides of a chemistry equation. I think this is what I am learning. Our job is not to prove our worth by toughness. Determination, sacrifice, and grit are great traits, but not necessary for worth. Ana is sharing her love with her world. Grief will always be a part or her life. Grief will always be a part ours. It’s an inescapable commodity doing pushups while waiting to attack. What can we do in these wonderful, magical moments between the heartache? Live and Love.