On Healing Journeys: The Everyday Moments of Magic

Dec 12, 2021

"I do believe in an everyday sort of magic -- the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we're alone." — Charles de Lint

Accepting help. Setting boundaries. Staying compassionate. Fostering authenticity of emotions. “Being” not “doing.” Riding the wave. Showing up. Resting…

There are countless lessons I’ve learned, alongside my family, since life gave me and my husband the unimaginable challenge of losing our son, and gave our daughter the challenge of losing her brother.

Countless talks, therapy sessions, cries, hopes, fears, and moments of wondering what the future could hold (and not always optimistically).

But one of the lessons that sticks out time and time again are the moments of calm, peace, knowing, or even just quiet where I am reminded that things will not always be as they are now.

The world has a subtle way of showing us these reminders, and they become clearer and clearer the more attention you pay.

After our family’s decision to have another child via gestational surrogacy, we (my husband, daughter, and I) were facing the last few months before the new baby’s arrival. As we finalized the necessary pre-birth paperwork, we decided on the name Zachary James. James after my father, and Zachary after Ben's favorite hockey player - Zach Parise (also a #11). We knew Ben would love the choice.

In celebration, Steve, Hanna Rose, and I dressed up for a special night at a community dinner theater. We knew those evenings would be rare once the baby arrived, and enough time had passed that an evening of music and laughter was a true gift, not a forced effort to get back to some semblance of normal.

In the bustling theater, at intermission, we were chatting about the first act when a server came to clear our plates. Immediately, Hanna Rose’s eyes were glued to the server’s tray.

She motioned to me, and I spied what caught her attention: a stuck-on piece of masking tape with the name Ben written in a black Sharpie marker.

Hanna Rose smiled, looked up at the server, and said, “Ben is my brother’s name.”

As he continued tidying up our table, the waiter smiled and simply replied, “I’m not Ben. I’m Zach. I’m just carrying Ben’s tray.”

It was in that moment, such a mundane and passing moment, that I was reminded yet again that we are not alone in our most painful journeys. We all carry forth mystery and meaning that we can’t comprehend.

We all carry the weight of our past, even when we joyfully step into the future.

I've learned not to put simplistic labels on these profound, serendipitous moments. We’ve experienced dozens since Ben’s death, and I often wonder whether those moments of stunning grace and reassurance have always surrounded me. More and more often, I believe they have.

I, my husband, and my daughter… We’ll always be carrying Ben’s tray. We’ll always be making our way in a world that used to look completely different. We’ll always have that weight.

But we’ll also always have that gift. The memories, the lessons, the moments of clarity. The profound growth, the positive transformation. The deep, deep understanding that the only constant in this world is change.

We all live a weightier life now… But one that’s all the more worth living for. Surviving for. Striving for. Thriving through.

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