What exactly does it mean to be brave? Beyond what Webster says, that is. Does it mean to cover up fear and face a challenge head on? Perhaps is it more of an acceptance, or rather an admittance of fear or challenge?
Sara Bareilles asks, “How big is your brave?”
I don’t even know anymore. I get confused by the vast range of emotions that seem to be weighing me down as time forces on.
Last night, I had the unique opportunity to share Audrey’s story on a panel for NICU and Labor/Delivery nurses. It challenged me to speak publicly and openly about Audrey’s death, particularly detailing the day she died. They asked what things about the day went well, and also what we might have changed. Everything about her last day was incredibly thoughtful and meaningful. There really isn’t much we would have changed. And as beautiful as the day was in retrospect, it was alarmingly painful to go over the day in such detail both as I prepared for the event and during the discussion itself. At times, I simply could not hold back a few tears with a lump in my throat, but I kept telling myself to be brave.
I kept it together during the drive home and into the arms of my boys. Chris asked how it went and I shook my head, he knew it wasn’t that it went poorly, but that in the moment I couldn’t talk about it. I held it together until that instant my head hit the pillow. And I…I just broke.
I used to float on this cloud of hope and dreams, now I seem to drift along a path of reality and logic. Not a bad thing, just different. Time sure moves at a changed pace. You know those “moving sidewalks” in airports? You walk at the same pace as those not on it, but you arrive at your destination much sooner and with little effort. That’s what time feels like right now. It just…moves. It moves for me, with me. But, try walking in the opposite direction on a moving sidewalk, I promise it requires double or triple the effort to get back to where you started. The same is true in life. I desperately want to go back, to be with her, but the sidewalk keeps on moving forward, further and further away.
Some call it a brave face, others may refer to it as a veil, either way this proverbial mask many of us wear at different times in our lives is tricky. It tells the world what we want it to, “I’m fine. I’ve got it all together. I’m happy and strong.” Mostly, the veil works well and does its job. Sometimes, however, the wind blows just enough to expose my unmasked face and someone paying attention notices. It’s a vulnerable feeling of failure. The feeling of all the brave worn off, and strength letting me down. Me letting me down. Lately I have felt hard and cold about it all. A little rough around the edges at best. I’ve only myself to blame though. I know how to choose joy, to seek happiness and to hunt for hope. When I start to sink, it isn’t the responsibility of anyone else pull me out. When I slip, it means I have lost my center, that my faith is weak and unsteady. I must stop trying to go it alone and lean on God to bear my weight when I cannot. I am not a victim, and I refuse to act like one. So how do I balance allowing my emotions to be real with keeping it all in perspective while maintaining compassion for those going through worse?
These are the types of questions that run through my brain at any given time. Oh, how I long for those simple, carefree daydreams to fill my thoughts instead.
Family and friends continue to support in many ways. As October comes to a close, we are grateful for a couple of memorable events that took place this month. On Saturday, October 11th, our family participated in the Stillwater Life Services Color of Hope Run with many other family members and dear friends. The event raised thousands of dollars for SLS and it was a joy to man the “Pink” color station in honor of Audrey. It was a cool, overcast day but the pink powder was so bright, we almost forgot about missing the sun.
The following Saturday, Bedlam Bar-B-Q and Zuzu’s Petals hosted an Evening with Purpose. More family and friends gathered and raised funds for Wings for Audrey. In all, over $2,000 has been donated as a result of the evening, including the sales of our Hope Shirts. We sold out in a matter of a few days, an incredible blessing. Wings for Audrey is about 30% of the way to $100,000. We need $70,000 more, and it can happen. We believe it will.
A friend from college told us recently that she and her husband would like to name their new baby girl Audrey, partly after ours. What an incredible moment that was. Their little Audrey has since come into this world and joined her precious family. I love knowing there is a piece of our girl that gave their girl her name, Audrey, “noble strength”. Our Audrey may no longer be with us here, but her story is literally living on in others. These are the things in which I find strength and solace.
Lastly, my heart is heavy yet hopeful for a family from Stillwater who is living life with their newborn baby at Children’s in Oklahoma City with heart complications. She has battled for a couple of weeks now and could use thoughts and prayers from you warriors. Seeing her updates, I am taken back to similar feelings and emotions and I know that the very best thing we can do for them right now is this. Please do take a moment to lift them up.
Until next time, love & Hugs,