Loss changes us. It transforms the parts of hope and pain into something else that we don’t recognize. And, even when time passes we still feel the ache deep in the core of our existence. I am always touched and astonished at the human spirit and how it keeps going when the world pushes it down.
I met a beautiful woman a few years back at a “vision board” gathering. We were cutting and gluing pictures onto boards trying to manifest our dreams for the near future. I sat across from Kelly. Behind her was the spirit of a young man dressed in a military uniform. At the time I had just started to see souls who had passed on all over the place. I had awakened to something that was overwhelming. I asked my friend if she could see the young man. She shook her head no. I could clearly see the young soul holding the shoulders of this woman. I assumed it was a child, a nephew, or someone very close to her.
After the gathering the woman leading the workshop brought a few of the ladies to see our retreat center. I was introduced to Kelly. Immediately, I felt the sadness, the inconceivable ache of loss, and the strength for having to move forward. She was one of the most courageous souls I had met in a long time. Fast forward about four years and she is still someone I hold close to my heart.
Today I sat with her on the phone, as she lives in another state. I asked her how she keeps going every day when her only child has passed on since 2009. Her answer was truthful and filled with vulnerability, “I don’t know. I don’t have an answer to that. I don’t know how I get up. Some days are better than others. I miss Brent and no matter how much time passes it is still difficult.”
Brent had arrived from his third deployment to Iraq in late February, 2009. He bought a motorcycle and on July 12th, he had the fatal accident. She had her son here on American soil. A twenty-five year old who had served our nation with the finest of humans on this planet. How anyone copes with the loss of a child is something I don’t ever want to experience. It’s inconceivable and, as we spoke, it’s raw and heart-wrenching. Listening to her break caused me to break as well. We are connected through these emotions. We are touched by the strength we witness in another. We are moved by the examples of grace when there isn’t anything else to hold.
Kelly shares pictures of her and Brent often on Facebook. She was a single mother since the age of 19. She will always be his mother, and he will forever be her son. Regardless of whether he is on another plane of existence or here, a child is a connection that can never be replaced.
I have several friends who have lost their sons this past year. Each one is courageous and moves with grace. Faith and a spiritual connection to humanity forces them to get up every single day. Kelly shows me through her posts and pictures that there is more to life than the living. There is a lesson of survival and perseverance in each day that forces us to stand up and keep moving. There is a “knowing” that we aren’t alone on this journey and that our loved ones are connected through Divine guidance. There are transformations and the awareness that the gift of life, especially from our children, is frail and beyond beautiful. It can never be taken for granted.
Say your “I-love-you’s” as much as you can. Give your hugs and raise others around you. Life is a journey towards the mysterious and the knowing that we are here on borrowed time. To all the Kelly’s of this world, “Thank you for showing us what bravery, vulnerability, compassion and love look like with your experience to keep showing up every single day regardless of the pain you carry inside your heart.”
I love you, Kelly Vaughn!