I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the phrases, “You are so strong.” “You’re the strongest person I know.” or “Keep strong.” Not only after my daughter’s passing, but throughout my life in general.
I’ve never known how to respond to that. How do you respond after all, when it’s the last thing you feel? I’ve often wondered what the real meaning of strength is. Is it just passing life’s constant tests, trials & tribulations- the 3 T’s? Do you have to pass in flying colors, or does just barely count?
When our beautiful girl passed while visiting my mom in Bolivia, we were surrounded by immediate & not-so immediate family members on my mom’s side. Family members & friends that I’ve only met & seen less than a handful of times throughout my life, only because they live several thousands of miles away. The only real bond & connection we had, is that we are family. But that is all they needed to carry us through that first week of hell.
From day one at the hospital, they never left our side. They arranged for all the services afterwards & help with bringing our baby girl home. Thanks to them we survived those first few days.
Coming back home on a late flight, our family here was waiting for us at the airport. Just passed the gates, we arrived to our loved ones waiting with open arms, waiting to take us in, hold us & protect us. Exactly what we needed.
Our first night home, on the steps of our house there were flowers, cards & balloons of sympathy from family & friends. Not only ours, but Hailey’s too. Heartbreaking, but sweet.
From then on again, it was the support of our amazing family, friends, co-workers & the community we live in that made it bearable to breathe, in this new world of pain we were living in.
We were flooded with calls, texts, emails, cards, home visits, food, & offers for help in any way. My sister & a friend set up a fundraising page to help with the medical & funeral expenses. It was amazing how many people- out of the kindness of their hearts, donated. People we knew & didn’t know, or who just knew Hailey. Tears poured as I read all the messages, specially of the ones remembering our daughter. “Hailey was a beautiful girl inside & out. She was always smiling. She was so sweet. She will never be forgotten.” etc, etc.
For as long as I live, I will never forget.
During the beautiful memorial service or Celebration of Life, arranged by our wonderful family also, we gathered again with loved ones & friends. So many that just came to tell us how much Hailey meant to them.
For as long as I live, I will never forget…
What is strength?
Strength is when Hailey’s sisters & cousins volunteered to read hymns during the memorial mass in front of so many people & were able to do it beautifully….
Strength is when Hailey’s little sister Bella wrote a letter to her sister, to read at the burial service in front of family & did it beautifully…
I hope they will remember that always, specially in the future, when grief makes its surprise visits. I hope that in return, by remembering, it will give them back some of that same amazing strength it took to stand there & demonstrate that simple act of love for their sister.
I know it does for me & as long as I live, I will never forget.
The truth is we don’t feel strong at all, but we know we have to be.
We are only still standing, because we are all leaning on one another.
We’ve only made if this far, because of all the wonderful people in our lives.
We are forever grateful, because we know not everyone is this lucky.
We are all still here, because of our love for daughters. All 3 of them.
In times of grief, when the darkness threatens to swallow us whole, I think about all the others waiting in the light. Watching & waiting to pull us out, without even having to ask. Maybe, this is what keeps us strong.
Perhaps, that is what strength is. The ability to accept help of others, with the knowledge that there is a light…somewhere in the midst of all the dark.
noun \ˈstreŋ(k)th, ˈstren(t)th\
: the quality or state of being physically strong
: the ability to resist being moved or broken by a force
: the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way
Source: Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary