For Scott and For Courtney

We all worry about our families. When we hear of a tragic car accident, act of violence, senseless accident, or illness we look at our own and feel how fragile it all is. It is fragile, but what can we do? We can’t go back to save those lost. And we can’t live in fear of losing those most precious to us. All we can do is feel gratitude and love for those we still have, and help support others when they suffer from loss.

My friend Courtney is a mother, teacher, photographer, and blogger at Our Small Moments. As of two days ago, she is also a widow after the passing of her 34-year-old husband. Her children, aged 6 and 8, are suddenly fatherless.

Her life was like any of ours in its ordinariness. Then in December her husband Scott was diagnosed with angiosarcoma of the pleura around his lungs. Just that sentence is mind bending. He had a what? Courtney, Scott, and their young children had to quickly adapt to medical speak as they faced Life With Cancer. His illness was fast-moving and extremely painful. His family stood by his side as he suffered and morphed from robust to weak, from full of joy to full of pain.

Within 8 months he lost his battle, Courtney lost her partner, and their children lost their father.

Once in a while things happen that strike home. This is one of those things for me. I look at my husband. I can’t imagine.

Courtney lost her husband. Suddenly. Out of the blue. She no longer has her partner, her best friend, to go through life with. She no longer has her partner, her children’s father, to share the ups, downs, and responsibilities of parenthood with.

Scott lost his life. He doesn’t get to be there anymore. He misses out on everything that happens to his children from this point forward.

The children lost their Daddy. Whatever games they played and moments they shared – be it in the bath, at bedtime, in pajamas on a Sunday morning – they’re over for those kids at just 6 and 8. From now on instead of a hug and a proud smile from their father, a “Your dad would have loved to see you do this,” will have to suffice.

The enormity of this loss, the unfairness of it, and the complete randomness with which cancer struck at the heart of this family is heartbreaking. Again, I look at my husband. I can’t imagine.

I can’t fix the hole in her heart. I can’t give her children back their father. I can’t take the pain and grief from her as she faces this new and unexpected path. But I can do something to help lift her up and ease her mind. I can help by letting her know that she is not alone in this, that people care.

We have set up a fund through GiveForward to help Courtney take care of the huge medical bills that unfortunately accompany an illness like this. A few dollars and a few kind words from each of us can add up to a tremendous difference in the life of this stricken family. Courtney is suddenly a single grieving mother of two young grieving children. Together, we can take this one daunting stress off her plate.

Please consider being a part of the community gathering to catch this family as they struggle on their incomprehensible journey. To donate, simply click here or on the beautiful image below.

Click here to donate

Reflections after a tragedy

This weekend I loved my kids with abandon. I butterfly kissed, painted, baked, tea partied, and crawled around the house giving horse rides. I let them eat french fries and watch too much TV. They stayed up late, then we read extra books and sang extra lullabies.

This was one of the best weekends of my family’s life.

In between all of this, I wiped my tears away hoping no one noticed. I weathered sudden panics and blinked back tears again.

Everywhere I went I saw children radiantly accepting extra affection. Another kiss, squeeze, smile, tousle of the hair. Parents, brokenhearted, lavished their kids with love, attention, indulgence, and total appreciation.

What is normally taken for granted was decidedly not.

I can barely breathe when I think of the children, teachers, first responders, and community of Newtown. I picture the two little faces I know and love so well on every one of those lost kids. Dread and terror just don’t seem like strong enough words.

So I was present this weekend. I relished my son running around the house at bedtime wearing nothing but a pull-up and red cape. I ate up my daughter’s manipulative doe eyes and I gave her all the cuddles she craved.

Not understanding that anything was amiss, that part of the world broke on Friday, my kids did what kids do: took complete advantage of their mother’s apparent temporary insanity. They brazenly asked for dessert after breakfast, complete furniture rearrangement for an authentic home movie theater experience, later bed times, more candy. I said yes.

In the midst of my grief and fear, I’ve changed in a way that I sincerely hope can’t be unchanged. Despite all my sarcasm, frustration, irritability, and joking, my children are beyond precious to me. So why not just tuck them in one last time? Fetch one last drink of water? There are far too many parents out there tonight who can’t. They would give anything for a prolonged bedtime routine.

Blogging, Community, and Loss

It’s nearly impossible to explain what blogging means to me to people not involved in the blogging world. They can understand the satisfaction I get from practicing my writing, sharing some laughs, getting support when I need it, and the fame and fortune that all bloggers enjoy. (By “fame and fortune” I mean anonymity and this-time-suck-doesn’t-pay.)

But what I can’t impress upon them, without seeming weird, lonely and creepy, is the very real community I’ve found. There are many bloggers who I count among my friends, and I’ve only met some of them. I communicate on a several-times-a-day basis with a community of smart, funny, caring women who I don’t “know” in any kind of traditional sense. But nothing can demonstrate how real this community is better than a recent tragedy.

A mother lost her daughter in an accident. The impossible to understand happened. A split second that can’t be undone. A community rallied  – many of the members had never met Bridget – and raised over $1200 in just a few days in hopes of helping in some small way. Brenna from Suburban Snapshots, (who you should follow because she’s awesome,) wrote the post that says it all.

Please help us support Bridget and her family. We’ve set up a fundraiser to cover practical expenses so that they have time to heal with one less worry. Any donations, prayers, and kind thoughts are welcome. Donate here until November 2nd, leave your messages in comments. Thank you.