Monday, July 23, 2012

My most sincere thanks.

Our family went out for pizza to celebrate my mom's birthday this past Friday. It was a wonderful spot {Pizzeria Lola in Minneapolis} and fantastic food too! I love when that happens; when a night out exceeds my expectations. It was just dinner and spending time with my family (except that Bella and Ava are with Chip's parents up north for a week of Grandma Camp, so we missed them, but they are having their own fun!), but it was a really nice treat to just enjoy each other's company and a great meal at the same time. I just had to post a picture of our dessert too. The pizzas are outstanding and one-of-a-kind. This sundae topped it all off. It's homemade vanilla soft-serve drizzled with olive oil and cacao nibs too. I could have eaten a dozen of those sundaes. Luckily Crew kept pushing my spoon away and so he saved me a few calories and indulged himself for me. =)
There happens to be a photobooth in the restaurant. Chip dragged me in there with him. {ha!} You know that's only partly true. He knows how much I love photobooths and so he invited me to join him and I happily went in for a few snapshots. It was just one of those nights wherelife felt really good. We had a little bit of drama and fussing from Teague on our ride home...and Crew complained of being car sick, but for us that's nothing. =) I can' help but look at these photos again, in light of the anniversary of Teagan' death and our incident at the Old Depot, which is coming up this Sunday.
The days line up perfectly to the dates that fateful July 2001, so maybe that is why my awareness and memories seem heightened. Maybe it is in light of the clouds that have lifted and my realization of just "how good I have it" truly is in my life right now. I am not entirely sure. But nonetheless my thoughts turn back over a decade to that time in our lives in contrast to the backdrop of these photos and our place in the world right now.
And do you know what first comes to my mind when I look at Chip and me smiling from a pizzera photobooth? It's not, "oh ,what a cute couple" or "wow, they are doing so great". Which I happen to agree with. tee hee...I joke. The truth is when I look at these pictures I think to myself, "I never would have imagined we would smile like this again. We have a lot of people to thank for that!" Yes. My thoughts turn to the people who have loved us, supported us, walked with us, cried with us, helped us laugh again, listened to our stories through our tears and theirs, made us want to believe in happiness again, or let us into their own pain so that we might not feel all alone in ours. Many of those people are YOU! The fact that you are reading this- no matter if this is your first post or 1200th post, I owe you a big thank you.
One of the scariest parts of grieving and living out such a 'high-profile story' all those years ago is that we were suddenly a big story in our small town and as a result there was no way to "hide" our pain and grief. I wrote about it some in my previous post. Our hurt was so big and enormous that sometimes simply walking into a grocery store would cause someone we knew and met in the aisles as we shopped burst into tears too. Our hurt was other people's hurt too. And that was hard for me. Hard because no matter where we went or what we did someone would ask us how we were doing and our nightmare was front and center all the time.
But as time went on I realized therein lies the gift of our pain and tragedy too. We COULDN'T hide it. We couldn't avoid people saying they were caring and praying for us. We had strangers sending us cards for months afterwards. We had people all over the world wishing us strength and healing and comfort. As I look at our smiling faces in the photobooth picture this day, I recognize and honor the prayers and outpouring of people from far and wide. We NEEDED that kind of support. We absolutely know that the prayers of many sustained us when our trials seemed to much to bear alone. I doubt Chip and I would be together if it weren't for the love and care and prayers of friends, family and strangers {which includes some of you blog readers!} from the first moment on. Today I write to say, "Thank you". From the bottom of my heart I want to say thanks.
I know it isn't "easy" to come alongside someone whose hurt and pain and sorrow in life you have never 'tasted' or known. So it means even more to me to those who have opened your hearts to our hurt. To our 'story'. To reach out in whatever way you have is to show great compassion. I recall times in my life when I heard about or knew people who were experiencing life's tragedy and loss in a big way. Sometimes I even remember distancing myself from them because I simply couldn't think of what I could say to ease their pain. There was nothing. Oftentimes that's just the way it is. Life can throw such curveballs that even those closest to the hurt don't know what to say. Sometimes it is "easier" to just back away.
But then there are people, who have such sensitivity or are so compelled to just be or do or say something to the wounded, and those are the people- you are the people- that Chip and I have to thank for the smiles in our pictures a decade later. There were days I was so consumed with the rawness of my breaking heart that Chip would walk through the door and find me weeping, my shirt soaked through from hours of tears, and he would sit next to me or wrap me in his arms. Sometimes he would just hold me. Sometimes his eyes would well up and he would sob with me. Sometimes we would just look at one another and try to grasp how we would ever be happy in life again. It seemed impossible. It seemed as though our lifetime would be too short for us to journey to happiness again.
These pictures amaze me, to tell you the truth. To see that we are happy- and not just faking our smiles- but we are truly filled with joy in life at times- well, that is a wonder to me. It is nothing short of a miracle as I think back to those dark days and as we prepare to mark another annivesary and year lived beyond our grief. Behin our smiles we hold Teagan's memory close. She is and always will be a special part of our lives. But I can't deny that our sorrow and grief is now more than a distant memory. It is sometimes the backdrop and basis for the happiness we do experience. Our smiles mean more to me now than they did before. I know what it has taken for us to get to this point. Our tragedy hasn't smothered us and jaded us, but it has made us appreciate more. Especially the simple things; the ordinary moments; the small happinesses in life, like a sunny night out for pizza and ice cream.
In light of the Colorado movie theater shooting, I am brought back to that place how our lives turned upside-down in one instant. I know that we never have a guarantee in life. Our next breath, the next day we're given is a gift. Every single time. There are people who will hurt in this life in grand ways. There are those of you, those of us, who can come alongside of them and make them believe in brighter days. Today, my heart is full of gratitude to every one of you who has cared for us and prayed us through. For those who have raised a frothy Coke Float in memory of Teagan and in order to make a new memory of your own. For those who wished our hearts would ever heal again after such a loss, I thank you for wishing that kind of goodness and blessing on us. For those who still listen and enter in to our world and care to be friends with us no matter the cost to you I say, "thanks". You are a gift. You are reason for us to smile. You are the reason that I blog and share so much- because you care about us- good and bad and everything in between. Today I simply say to you, my most sincere thanks.


Adrienne said...

I'm thankful you allowed yourself to remain candid and real while you shared your journey, all the while reaching out to other families, like my own. I'm thankful for YOU! xoxox

Jo-Anne said...

You know I love you and am sooooo blessed you chose me to be your friend... so thank YOU!

MelanieL said...

Thank YOU for sharing your life with us...even though I don't personally know you, you're an inspiration to me to always cherish each new day and each moment, good or bad, that comes my way. I truly loved this post and those smiles are wonderful, I'm so happy for you all:)

Heather from Ontario Canada said...

Oh Jodi, if only I could come over there and give you a big hug....I guess a cyber hug will have to do .Thinking and praying for you today. ((((((HUG)))))