Getting ready to move, and I found a box of things I kept from the hospital after Gavin died…

Inside was a picture one of the nurses took of me holding him as we said goodbye. It was an interesting experience, seeing that again. Anyone else would likely have struggled to look at the image…found it morbid, probably.

His edema made his skin taught and paper thin. He was intubated and covered from top to bottom in tubes and wires (the highest IV was in the skin of his head and the lowest was inserted into the top of his right foot—then there were countless other tubes and wires littered across the space in between—so, in this case, “from top to bottom” is not used as a figure of speech). His coloring shows clear evidence of how close death loomed—literally moments away.

I’ve never been able to look at the picture myself for longer than a glance without turning my head, and I am his mother. . .

But this time was different.

I not only found myself able to look at the image, but I lost myself inside of it.

For the first time ever, I looked at that boy, in that physical state, and I didn’t want to turn away. In truth, for the first time ever, I saw so.much.beauty there.

The image didn’t disturb me at all. . .there was so much love in my heart— longing, yes, and also abundant love—overwhelming in proportion.

I wept tears of joy at the peace I had found.

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I share this for those who mourn—no matter the cause.

I share this for those who are in the darkest parts of the trauma called “grief.”

There is hope.

There is another side of the tunnel called grief—for it is, as they say, a tunnel, not a cave (though I know there are days, weeks, months, years even when it certainly does not feel that way).

Someday, you will be able to open the box of the darkest hours of memory, and the terror will be gone.

There will always be remnants of sorrow and pain, it is evidence of our very humanity, evidence of the depth of our love, but the terror, the horror, the racing heart, the crushing in your chest, the inability to recall and look at certain events of your past without the threat of complete physiological and emotional overwhelm. . . that can change.

It can.

The change comes in and through a God, a literal Father in Heaven, who knows and loves you perfectly.

Ask.

Wait.

Exercise patience (though I know, the wait can be excruciating).

And through his perfect love and grace, you can find peace, even understanding, to free you from that darkest part of the grief and pain by which you are bound.

I KNOW this is true, for I have lived it.

It took a miracle, but thankfully, we live in a world that is full of those.

xx,

N

I’ve spent the last 6 months wondering how I’d ever return to the world wide web. I’ve been afraid, ashamed, discouraged, confused.

I’ve been a million things, but none of them was ever “ready.”

So, here I am. . . reluctantly breaking radio silence, after nearly 6 months of static.

I missed you. I did. And I’m so sorry for deserting you. I am.

I’m nervous. Of all the ridiculousness there ever was, I.am.nervous.

It’s like I’m coming home to a long lost friend. The kind of friend who once understood me completely and loved me without condition. The kind of friend who, once upon a time, would have been there for me, no matter what. . . But it’s been so long. What if things have changed? What if it’s simply been too long? What if I’ve muddled everything?

I’m afraid.

In fact, my heart is pounding through my chest. (And tears are streaming down my cheeks. . . which really embarrasses me—full disclosure, remember? It’s my thing. Or have I been away so long that you’ve forgotten?)

“This is absurd,” you say? I KNOW! You are ABSOLUTELY correct. This is absurd. We’re talking about a BLOG here, and a peripheral one at that! I.hear.you. I feeeeeeeeel you. And, despite it all, this is exceptionally hard. Picking up the pieces and beginning again where I stand is hard in a way that I could never, ever have anticipated.

It hurts to worry that no one is left to listen. It hurts to admit that, well, even if you are still there listening, I just don’t know what I have left to say. And THAT? Well, that’s the most horrifying admission of them all. . .

So, why today? Why not yesterday? A week ago, a month ago, six?

Why am I suddenly ready, today?

Oh, I’m not. Ready. Not at all.

But enough. Enough. Because this isn’t about me. It has nothing to do with me at all.

I’m here today for you, Adler. For you, Sarah. And for you, brave, selfless McKay.

I am here today, for you.* 

 

Friends, please share what you can (I’ve been here, trust me, every dollar matters). If you can’t share monitarily, please, help me spread this video as far and wide as the ocean is deep.

Let’s help give this family the miracle they so deserve. Let’s help these beautiful brothers grow up together.

Let’s fix Adler, together.

 xx,

N

*Sarah, McKay, Adler and the rest of you sweet kindred stranger-friends of mine, I pray so earnestly that you receive a miracle. I pray with every beat of my heart that God hears my prayers. I pray fervently that His perfect will is aligned with my own. And I pray, with the entirety of my broken heart, that your miracle looks far different than my own—I pray that your miracle ends with happily ever after. . . together. . .forever. . .here . . .now. Infinite love, and the most heartfelt namaste, Natalie

PS. Dear Instagram,
Thank you for making the life of the every day blogger infinitely. . .
well, better, in every way.

This morning, I was packing sack lunches with as much satisfaction as I’ve experienced in the entirety of my life (in sincerity).

Tears of gratitude streaked across my face as my soul joyously proclaimed, “What else matters, but lunches?!” (Yes, this description truly necessitated the ridiculousness of language like, “joyously proclaimed,” so get off my back.:))

In that messy moment, not a thing in the world mattered to my heart more than the mouths those lunches would feed. Not a thing.

“Our shadow by day” is a line from a hymn that I love. (Read the lyrics here or listen here: verse 3, where the men bust it out a capella??? Woooooooosh.)

Our shadow by day. . . I never realized the significance, until I moved to the desert. The difference between the shade and the beating heat of the sun, can very literally mean the difference between life and death.

The spiritual parallel is astonishing.

You see, I’ve felt so broken. So disoriented. So utterly small and completely overwhelmed.*

Then, I stepped into the shade. I stepped into His rest. And nothing has been the same.

As I actively seek my Father in Heaven, I find him. As I actively seek that spiritual shade, so to speak, my life is more fulfilling in every way that truly matters (and in most of the ways that don’t).

My brown paper sack at 6 in the morning . . . my shadow by day.

No matter how you slice it, God is there, and He is great.

(Psssst. You matter to Him, SO MUCH, by the way.)

*These feelings are part of the path we walk, those of us “who know.” All of these feelings are lingering symptoms of the journey through grief. That said, they are also symptoms that come as the result of other overwhelming, life shattering, circumstances faced by each of us every single day. Please don’t think that I’m EVER trying to compare battle wounds. Because I never am.

When I was a teenager, my mom and I used to head up American Fork Canyon every morning to hike the trail to Timpanogos Cave. Some of the most profound spiritual experiences of my life occurred on the face of that mountain. It was there I learned to listen to my Father in Heaven (I’d always been very good at talking AT Him).

These early morning adventures are among my most treasured memories with my mother. However, one experience stands high above the rest.

I may have a stronger build than Mom, but boy does that woman have endurance. She can go and go and go and go and go. But when you’re 16 years old, you’re supposed to be faster, stronger, and more fit than your old lady mom. I was none of the above. And it was INFURIATING.

On this particular day, I was determined not to finish in her shadow. As we approached the final stretch of the trail, 3 steep switchbacks (by far the steepest of the entire climb), I opened the throttle. I literally sprinted the remaining distance to the top of the mountain.

VICTORY!

But the sense of accomplishment very quickly gave way to absolute terror. I reached for my throat, desperately gasping for air.

None came.

I panicked. I began to feel dizzy. Thankfully, I was coherent enough to lower myself to the ground in order to avoid falling over the edge. The harder I tried to gasp for breath, the more frantic I became. I could not breathe. I was horrified, certain I was going to die. A few other hikers had gathered around, but that detail is foggy. I don’t remember what they said, if anything, or what they did, if anything. I just remember them being there, and I remember sensing their sincere concern for me. The next thing I clearly remember was my mom trotting up over the top of the trail. The moment she saw me, she rushed to my side.

All she did was place her hand on my back.

Immediately, I took a long, deep breath. And another, and another. . .

I was safe. My mom was there.

________________________________________________________________________

For the last year and a half I have been heavily involved in The Making Things Happen Intensive. This is work I believe in. It is rich and fulfilling. It has made me a better person in every way.

And . . . it’s time to say goodbye.

As much as I love this work, the girls (Gina, Lara, Em) and the remarkable alum, the reality is this: God has been knocking on my heart for some time now, and just like I learned during those mornings on the trail, all those years ago, I need to remember to listen.

(Yes, I’m licking my son’s face. Believe me, the punk had it coming.)

As it relates to my professional life, this may be a big, bad business decision (and by “may be” I mean “most certainly is”).

Yes, I am afraid. There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty ahead. But I am absolutely certain that I am being called home, and I am thus absolutely certain that I will NEVER live to regret this decision. . . as difficult as it has been to make.


As much as I hate saying “goodbye” to something I love so very, very much, I am also saying “hello.” I’m saying “hello” to something I love even more.

Clearly the last 5 years haven’t exactly been easy on my family. It’s important to remember that not only did my boys lose their brother, they also lost their uncle. . . who had lived with (or very near) them for the entirety of their lives. Their sense of loss has been tremendous, beyond anything I could have ever imagined would be our reality. They still struggle daily from the remnants of this devastation. . . and though I firmly believe that they will eventually heal, I also believe that they will continue to struggle for some time to come.

They need me. Here. To wrap my arms around them and echo my mother before me.

“You’re safe. Mommy is here.”

All photos in this post courtesy of G.

PS- I love you Lara, Gina and Emily. Your response to all of this has been nothing less than as gracious and supportive as everything I have come to expect from each of you. You are remarkable. Exceptional. The best friends I ever could have dreamed up in my very wildest of imaginings. I’ll always, ALWAYS, be your biggest supporter and your number one fan.

PPS- All, happiest of Mother’s Days, by the way.

Above quote by the tap dancing goddess, Eleanor Powell.
Above photo, sweet Mailee, spinning in the sun.

I wish I could pass my life by simply spinning along through the warm rays of the sun.

I’ve been left in awe in recent days as I’ve pondered over just how very much I have been given. This is a refreshing respite from the cold and lonely land of self pity I’ve danced my way through over the past couple of weeks.

People, God loves us. He loves you. He loves me. He wants us to find peace. He wants us to find joy. He wants us to have security, laughter and all the beauty and goodness this world has to offer. But like the little chick, we must break out of the egg on our own. We must push and struggle, and sometimes even kick and SCREAM, in order to break that shell. But once we do. . . we are free. We are strong. We are prepared for the big world that awaits us. God doesn’t make things easy for us. No. Because he loves us too perfectly for that. He knows we need to grow, to progress  . . . to prepare for what lies ahead. . . otherwise where would we end up? Well, what happens to the chick who doesn’t develop the strength necessary to break out of his shell on his own? What happens if a well intentioned master steps in and helps by pulling the shell away? Eventually, the chicken dies, for it has not developed the strength to survive in the outside world.

As my wonderful husband reminds me (as it relates to this analogy, which ultimately belongs to him, not me), “Natalie, we are all big chickens.” (And he’s right.)

Once upon a time, someone asked me if I would die for God. There was no hesitation in my heart, “Of course I would.” The question that followed has never left my soul, “Will you live for Him?”

It’s interesting to think about. And by interesting, I’m sure I mean Earth-rattling. In quiet moments I’ve imagined myself standing up for what I believe, fighting for integrity, truth, purity, light. I’ve imagined myself as the heroine of my own story, willingly making the ultimate sacrifice for all that is good and holy! But God hasn’t asked me to make that sacrifice, what he has asked of me is a broken heart and a contrite spirit. He has asked me to truly LIVE for him.

What would happen if I were to translate that same courage, that same commitment to what I believe so perfectly that I would die for it, into the LIVING of my life? How would I approach everything I do? With courage, with faith, with resolve, with a willingness to see clearly and sacrifice as necessary for the people and things in my life that matter most.

I’m in the process right now of drawing the strength and courage necessary to make a couple of very large sacrifices. I’m sure they would seem insignificant to most, but they are nevertheless, gut wrenching for me. But I want to live for my Father in Heaven at all times, and in all things, and in all places, even if that means taking big risks, doing hard things and offering up my heart and soul. . . (the living of my very life) as evidence of my faith in Him.

I believe that true sacrifice — our will for His— brings forth the greatest blessings of heaven. The greatest blessing I could ever ask for, and the greatest blessing that I believe comes as a result of our greatest sacrifices, is that of PEACE.

. . . peace that feels like spinning along through the warm rays of the sun.