I can only imagine

Brad and I have been discussing doing some cosmetic updates to our home. We’ve been here for 23 years, and some of our furniture just as long. Almost. Almost.

At least that’s been my stance as far as our green leather, brass tacked, reclining sofa and love seat are concerned. Now that our son has inherited the basement furniture, it’s time for the leather furniture to make its way there. Brad maintains that we’ve only had them for six or seven years. So, just like Nancy Drew, I got out my flashlight and investigated.

October 31, 2000.

As I looked at the receipt from the local furniture store, my first reaction was to share it with Brad, because of course, I was right. The pieces were as old as I thought.

My second thought was disbelief. Our daughter Claire had died just months before. How was it that I was shopping for furniture then? How was it possible that at a time I could barely make it through a day, that I could make a conscious decision about a major purchase?

The answer is the same one that applies anytime I wonder how I’ve managed to put one foot in front of the other every day for the last sixteen years.

Friends. And Family. And sometimes complete strangers.

I had a friend who was an interior designer and helped me through the process of updating our family room then.

I’m sure it wasn’t easy for her.

For years, I’ve heard, “I can’t imagine” when sharing our story.

This morning it dawned on me that I can’t imagine what it has been like to be the one literally holding my hand, making me dinner, helping with my kids, or assisting my efforts to get Claire’s Day off the ground, and me right along with it. I can’t imagine it has been easy hearing my pain rise from my gut and out from my soul. I can’t imagine it has been easy bearing witness to my grief journey.

But, because of all of you, I’ve slowly made it to the other side. The pain will always be there, but it no longer knocks me off my feet. It’s been replaced by joy, gratitude and purpose.

Because we’ve all worked hard together through this journey, now we get to rejoice in what my end-goal always was; to keep my family intact despite how we had been broken at our core. Claire’s Day served as that vehicle to help me grieve, all the while holding on to Brad, Kyle and Ian.

So, with that, I raise my cup of late afternoon tea to all of you who have been with us, through the downs, and now the ups, as we celebrate exciting news. Kyle and Ian are both settled into the start of their new jobs and lives in Atlanta and Columbus. Brad and I are doing great. Luna, our amusing Labrador, is healed from her surgery. Claire’s Day is expanding to three different dates and locations this year. And Claire’s Day has been featured in an article in this month’s Reader’s Digest. How cool is that?

I can’t imagine what all you’ve been through, any more than you could me.

But I’ve imagined, wished and hoped for all this goodness for a long time. Thanks for helping me get here.