I’m having one of those days when I feel thankful to be alive. It’s crazy because as I look outside at all of the snow we are having in Aspen and around, I think, why am I so happy? It is freezing cold, the sun hasn’t been out in three days and all I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep but I am at work instead.
A few days ago I received a phone call from a woman who had just finished our book. She left this very cool message about how the book had touched her. I didn’t know her story at the time but I had this feeling that she had experienced loss. Her voice was friendly and her inflection filled with energy and strength. It’s amazing what a voice on an answering machine can tell us about someone we’ve never met.
I called her back, not knowing what to expect. What I found out about her was that she had lost her two year old son CJ, her mother-in-law, and grandmother-in-law in the deadly F3 tornado that hit Evanston, Indiana, November 6, 2005 at 1:58 am. The tornado took 25 lives — three were Kathryn’s and her husband John Martin’s family.
Kathryn told me a little of what happened on that day. She told me how her and John were pulling children from lakes and doing all they could to save those they could, not knowing where their son and loved ones were. I think of that feeling alone and a pit consumes my heart, soul and being.
Kathryn chose to move forward, to honor CJ’s life as well as her in-laws, and to help others who are affected by natural disasters. They raised money and built a bus with CJ’s picture on the side. When a natural disaster occurs, they pack up the van with crayons and supplies to help give the children a ‘safe place’ to be while their parents or loved ones tend to those in need, clean up and pull their lives together. Please check out the website: cjsbus.org.
So, today I don’t care if it feels like the middle of winter and I can’t find the light of day. It doesn’t matter that I haven’t figured out what I’m having for dinner tonight or for that matter when I’m going to buy my Thanksgiving turkey. Nothing really matters because what really matters is that there are beautiful people in this world who find love and hope despite tragedy … that we are all part of the miracle of grace. Life can hurt and leave our hearts empty and devastated. Kathryn has chosen to feel this pain, to never allow the memory of CJ to die and to take one step in front of the other and to move towards healing by doing something really special.
Grief has no rules. Each one of us has to find our own way through it. It takes time and it takes patience and grace. It takes faith. Each day we wake up, we have to know that we will get through that day…and when we know that, one can begin to reach out and help others and find that in serving others, we are healing some part of ourselves.