All I can think about today is my late husband, Andrew. Yesterday, he would have turned 34 years old. On Monday night I asked our daughter, Ellie, what she would want to say to her Daddy on his birthday. I posted it yesterday on Facebook, but in case you missed it, she gave me permission to share her birthday letter to her Daddy here with you.
I wish you could be here with us and see us right now. We really, really miss you. We wish you could come back to us. I wish you could meet our dog, Keller, because Mimi and Pop Pop surprised us with her. I wish I could have seen you more because I only got to see you until I was 2 and I wasn’t very happy about that. Remember when we played and laughed? I wish you could be with us, because we are having a great moment right now. I go to the school you used to teach at and I love it! I got so excited because I thought you were going to be there every night, and every morning when I woke up, and I keep thinking you’re going to be there. I wish you could have always been here. I just really really, really miss you. Keller says hi,“ruff–ruff”. We love you very much!
She finished by belting out the birthday song!
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how loss has shaped my life over the past few years. As challenging as it was to go through the process of losing Andrew, I’ve found it challenging in a different way to live without him. I believe it is well with his soul, yet my soul feels impacted every day. Maybe it’s magnified because I speak about him and share his books, but I think even if I didn’t do those things I would still feel the weight of his absence every day. In my experience, it’s something that doesn’t go away, not completely. It’s something I’m learning to grow through as I focus on the gifts he gave me and the lessons he taught me in order to become a better, braver, and kinder version of myself.
Focusing on his positive qualities, the lessons he taught me, and the gifts he gave me (AKA – my Ellie Bug) allows me to funnel my energy in a positive direction that improves my life and brings me peace and healing. Of course, there are those days when I’m simply sad he’s not here to share this life with us. On those days I give myself some time to feel while taking extra good care of myself .
Knowing I can’t escape the reality of my loss, my question becomes: How can this experience be used to make my life and the lives of others better? There’s a quote I once heard that’s stuck with me over the years. It says, “The difficulties of life are intended to make us better, not bitter.” The best way I’ve found to accomplish this advice is through holding onto the good, taking in the lessons, and cherishing the gifts.
Loss does shape us and it’s our decision which way.
I would love to know… How has loss shaped you? It doesn’t have to be a physical loss, either. Sometimes the pain of a dream lost can also shape us.
I’m headed to San Diego this weekend to celebrate my 32nd birthday on Saturday with my family. I can’t thank you enough for being such a blessing in my life. Your encouragement and support over the years has helped me find my voice and be brave enough to share it, in hopes of inspiring others to do the same. I want you to know how grateful I am for YOU! Love and Blessings.
PS – Christmas is coming, and if you’re looking for a meaningful gift to share with those you love, please check out my late husband, Andrew’s, book, The Ellie Project! This book is truly for all ages. His drawings are simple and children love them, but his words are powerful and wise enough to carry us all through this life, no matter what our age. Get your signed copy at www.ellieproject.com.
PPS – Want to motivate, inspire, and encourage a group, company, or church you are a part of? My message is about “transforming life’s greatest challenges into a purposeful life” and I’d love to come share it! Email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org to book me as your speaker.
*Thank you to Joseph Mark Photography for the priceless photograph.