I’m suddenly overwhelmed by memories of what it felt like to be there.

I remember feeling so helpless. I remember feeling like I was powerless. I remember feeling completely resigned to God’s will for us (which I was 100% CERTAIN was aligned with my own).

Oh my faith!

Never had more faith been had!

I KNEW my son was coming home. I KNEW it like I knew the sun would set . . . upon his pain and my terror and sorrow. I knew it as I knew that the dawn would come . . . and heal his wounded body and my wounded soul.

I KNEW.

And yet.

And yet, God knows all things from the beginning to the end. God knows what we need. God knows what must be done for our ultimate good. God loves us, and he knows. . . all.

HE KNOWS ALL.

And I trust him. With all of my heart.

With.all.of.my.heart.

In those darkest of hours, He stood by my side. I felt His peace at a time where there should have been none to be had.

Oh that peace. Would there were words to describe.

xx,

Me

To you who hurt:

Trust him.

He knows you. He loves you. He is with you. Always. No matter the burden, no matter how helpless it may seem, no matter the depth of your worry or sorrow. He descended below all that you might not remain comfortless. I pray that you may turn to him, that you may feel his loving arms around you.

He is the perfect friend.

It’s not that I’m ignoring the elephant in the room.

I simply don’t know what to say, and I refuse to talk simply to hear the sound of my own voice. That’s never a good enough reason.

But know this, we are facing this week head on and taking it one step at a time.

That’s all that can be done.

For all the begging and pleading in the world won’t earn me another moment with him in this life.

If only it could.
If only it could.
If only it could.

But trust this my dear, sweet, loving, concerned, CHERISHED friends. . . I feel your prayers.

Every.single.one.

They dance beside me by day and keep watch by my pillow through the night.

Our arms may be empty, but our hearts are full.

Because of you.

Our hearts are full.

There is TRUE power in prayer.

God is good.  All the time.

xo,

Me

PS- I’m going to try to relive every day as it unfolded (thus the link above). Masochistic? No. These posts remind me that I fought. That I gave my EVERYTHING. They remind me how much we loved each other, that beautiful boy and I. They remind me how loved we all were, how each of you showered your love and faith so freely. They remind me of the goodness of God. They remind me that we are NEVER left comfortless, for even in our darkest hour, He stands, arms outstretched, waiting for us to let Him in.

Richie, reading the Christmas story to the boys at bedtime.

Dear Richie,

Today I went to the cemetery.

You were still asleep, the house was quiet, so I slipped on my running shoes.

I ran and I ran and I ran, and before I knew it, I was there.

The grass was beautiful, covered in dew, as the sun was just breaking it’s way over the horizon.

I sat there and had a good long cry.

I thought about where we were a year ago tonight . . . Blessing our fourth PERFECT son. Surrounded by family, laughter, and so much hope for the future.

It would only be days before we’d find ourselves walking long, lonely hallways in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, falling to our knees each moment in fervent prayer. So desperate to keep him with us.  So desperate not to say goodbye. So desperate for a miracle.

A year later, I see. . . through misty eyes. . . an entire tapestry of miracles. All woven together in faith, longing, sorrow and joy, into something so beautiful, so pure, so perfect, that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We.are.surrounded.by.miracles. Aren’t we?

YOU Richie, are the most profound miracle of my life.

Thank you for being with me through this year. Thank you for wiping away my tears. Thank you for lifting me from the dust and inspiring me to carry on, not just to SURVIVE, but to move forward with JOY and determination. Thank you for helping us turn our tragedy into triumph.

I love you.

Merry CHRISTmas!

xx,

Me

Raleigh 12/11/2010

Cardon 12/11/2010

Lincoln 12/11/2010

Gavin 12/24/2009

I see this picture and I can almost feel you.

I can almost feel the weight–the warmth–of your body on my chest.

Almost smell the sweetness of your skin.

I remember.

I remember you.

As tears flood my swollen eyes, I remember you.

And I ache.

But so closely knit to that hurt is a deep and profound sense of gratitude,
to that God who gave us the little while.

The little while to be together.
The little while that I will cherish for every moment, and through every breath that I take. . .
for the rest of forever.

I.AM.GRATEFUL.

Grateful for each rise and fall of your chest.

Each clasp of my little finger.

Each and every moment at my breast.

So grateful that amid the hustle of life,
for you, I stopped.

For you, I took a moment, a day, a week. . . every waking hour of your short life,
I stopped and I gave it ALL to you.

Those days that are now lost to the vast expanse of eternity,
they were yours.

And today, tomorrow, and forever . . .
I will be thankful and praise our father for each and every second I spent with you.

Me. Sick nasty, post Bikram yoga.
Dog tag was given to me by my dear friend Mike Colón after the death of my son.
I wear it any time I feel like I need the reminder that life may be big, but I’m stronger.

Run Natalie, Run!

Recently, I took up running.

And it SUCKED.

It sucked so bad that I’m borderline full blown anxiety attack just thinking about it. There are not words for the complete suck of it’s suckiness. (At least not words I’m willing to use on this blog).

People who know me best of all ask me everyday how the heck I (of allllll the people in allllll the world) am now running anywhere from 6-13 miles every single day.

First of all, to be able to grasp the true miracle of my accomplishment, you must understand the depth of my hatred for running.  Imagine a chasm soooooo deep and soooooo wide that you could bury Kilimanjaro inside and never again hear tale of her.  Times that by 9, then take THAT answer, and double it.  You will at least BEGIN to understand the level of hatred we’re discussing here.

So, how DID I do it? Honestly? I don’t know. I TRULY did NOT believe I had it in me. But I’ll tell you what—and with a huge smile on my face—I DID. I had it in me. The ability to commit to and achieve something impossible? I have THAT ability inside of ME. And so do YOU.

I’m not going to go into the details of my training program or the literal steps I took to make it happen for me—another day another post.

But I will say this one thing: I walked before I ever ran.

Walk before you run.

You know Lao-tzu’s brilliant (and unfortunately cliché) adage: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step? Well folks, it’s true. And it’s never been truer than it is in this very moment. The first step is simply the very hardest one of all.

Have you ever tried to jump start a car by pushing it along a flat surface? (I specify, because once, in high school, Michelle Ostler and I attempted to push a car UP a hill. . . not advisable. Ever.)  It’s nearly impossible to get it going at first.  One push, two, three.  The car starts to rock forward and backward. . . bit by bit, until suddenly it’s rolling slowly along.  Little by little, you’re able to increase in speed until BAM! You pop the clutch, rev the engine and before you know it you’re hitting 65 on the interstate!

You can’t hit 65 on the first push. Or the second.  Each nudge increases your momentum and before you know it, it’s smooth sailing.

Resolve.

How many of of you at the start of 2010 had resolved to lose 20 lbs?

How many of those self same souls are now a solid 35 lbs overweight and are currently on some nutso cayenne pepper and yak urine cleanse in hopes of dropping a fast five in to prep for xy or z  Hunnakah soireé? (Happy Hunnakah and l’chaim by the way!)

I don’t have to spell it out for you.  We doddle around. We procrastinate. We get derailed. We’re lazy. We’re afraid of failure. We’re afraid of success. We’re afraid of change. We’re afraid of the Boogie Man. We get “too busy” (load of lard that one is). . .  aaaaaaand in the end, we simply . . . opt out. We push pause on (or say “goodbye” all together) to so many dreams, to so many things we could do, say or become, because we can’t figure out how to get the momentum we need to really achieve.

It’s sad. And we deserve better. WE CAN HAVE BETTER. We simply have got to resolve, and then walk before we can run.

You can do ANYTHING for 29 days.

It’s December 1st (for precisely 6 more minutes).

You resolved to lose 35 lbs.  Can you lose 35 lbs in 29 days? Not unless you amputate your left leg.  But could you lose 5 lbs before the end of the year?  ABSOLUTELY!!!

You resolved to organize and dejunk the entire house, including the basement (eek!) and the garage (oy!). Can you complete that in 29 days?  Not unless you want to be divorced and committed to the loony bin by Christmas Eve.  But, could you organize and de junk your office space? ABSOLUTELY!!!!

You resolved to pay off all your credit card debt? Can you pay off 43 million dollars by December 31? (If you can, I want to come work for you). You simply can’t, but you CAN create a debt elimination plan and start hacking away.  Even $1 is forward motion.

You resolved to run a marathon. Can you go couch to marathon in 29 days? Not unless you want to be dead. As a doornail. But you COULD build up to 2—4 miles! And that’s HUGE!!!

Rather than waiting for the new year to come around. . . so you can make yet ANOTHER resolution to lose that baby weight, de junk that garage, learn a second language, start that dream project, forgive your mom, read the complete works of C.S. Lewis, bring together the next hot boy band . . . why not START NOW?  Today. Why not gain some forward momentum so that come January 1, you greet your life at a jog?! Already well on your way to success.  Why not?!

Imagine how good it would feel.

And guess what? YOU DESERVE IT.

Success Tips.

I BELIEVE in specificity when it comes to goals.  Which packs more punch?  “I’m going to take up running.” VS “I’m going to run the Gunstock Half Marathon on October 30th 2010 at 7:00am.” I would have failed without that specific, time bound goal.

I also BELIEVE in accountability.  It’s the ONLY thing that keeps me going when the going gets rough.  If you feel so inclined, post in the comment section ONE THING you want to accomplish before the end of the year.  I would LOVE to hold you to it. It can be as simple as, “Send an email to that guy about that thing.” Sometimes it’s the tiny to do’s in our lives that give us the most anxiety and grief.

Remember, the first step is the very hardest one to take.

YOU CAN DO IT! I BELIEVE IN YOU!!!

Ready, set, GO!

_________________________________

Want to really get a running start for 2011?? Join Lara Casey and I at the last Making Things Happen event of 2010!  This event was sold out!  Lara recently opened up a very few extra seats, and guess what? It’s inches away from selling out again!  COME.  I cannot imagine a more significant gift to give yourself at the start of a new year than this.  I would LOVE to see you there!