I ran into an old friend the other day. Usually I dread seeing people from waaay back (I’m talking high school… Don’t act like you don’t hide!) but this time I was actually delighted. It’s been over ten years since I saw him and it was wild to all of sudden be standing there chatting.
We caught up for a while and then I saw him look down at my arm. I have a tattoo with Blake’s name on forearm. Looking back and forth from my tattoo to my eyes he finally said, “I do know your story. I know about Blake.”
Part of me was glad he had heard about Blake. The other part of me felt sad for him because it was so hard for him to even say what he said. I’ve been thinking about those two sentences for the last couple of days. I realized he was so right. She is MY story. What an enormous privilege I get to carry forever.
I think there is a misconception about us. Our story, my story, is not a story of triumph. Look at them. Their daughter died and they moved on to have more kids. They even became foster parents. They overcame tragedy. They’re so strong. I could never be like them. Nope. That’s not it. When something catastrophic like your child dying happens, you realize overcoming is not a possibility, nor would you want it to be. You realize, real quick, you have no fucking choice. There is no bow big enough to turn a tragedy into some kind of life gift. Everything DOES NOT happen for a reason.
Here’s what I hope you take from our story and see in my family: love. I hope you see a couple crazy parents dedicated to honoring their daughter’s memory by living the best way they can, showing kindness, and loving the hell out of their family. I hope you see the struggle it is to be raising children while always missing one. If you can’t see the struggle then it’s like she was never here.
I hope you always see Blake in our family. She is what makes us, us.