I wrote a book dedicated to my son’s loss called Letters for Grace. He died on this September date almost two decades ago; yet, Matt lives with me still. His laughter, felt when I need it most, is contagious and can cut through my tears; when he throws his arm across my shoulders I know he’s still trying to lead me out of my darkest places. I’m a lucky Mom; my son is alive in me and he is not shy about reminding me I have something to say: “Just do it, Mom!” has been his forever phrase.
I realize my book may not be an easy read; I understand it could remind some of you of things you would like to keep locked away. But I hope you’ll want to give it a try, because it also has my son’s wisdom threading throughout. At first, I wrote of the incredible, bottomless pain of his loss, and then, after I was able to feel his presence, I wrote of the wonder of unanticipated and life-saving hope. Grace traces the time of light breaking through the ugly darkness of my own profound grief. What I’ve learned through my climb back to living is that when my heart cracked open widely enough, the love and healing of grace was finally able to begin moving in and through it. Leading with our hearts is a very scary proposition . . . but a necessary one if we want to keep who we’ve loved and lost always moving through the fabric of our lives.
The following is a brief piece of the ending section of Letters for Grace.
~ Addendum for Grace
“' . . . just talk about what you think is saving your life now:' this statement brought my reading to an abrupt halt. Barbara Brown Taylor’s words in An Altar in the World immediately ping-ponged around my brain, resting briefly on one idea, then another thought and then another. What is saving my life? And with that question I tumble back into the past. I name my Saviors and note that they have changed over time. When Matt died, I counted on those who proved they knew how to unconditionally love me to save me, to keep me alive, to help me open my eyes to tomorrows. When BC left, I fell into the intellectual arms of strangers and colleagues whose words, ideas, and experiences taught me ways to honor and salvage remnants of a lifestyle slowly disintegrating. In time I worked to save myself by using skills and new understandings to make decisions and alter the way I thought about and lived life. Saviors change. And, luckily for us all, saviors abound.
My ten-year travel brought me many saviors, not all to whom I listened well, but many were in the right time, the right place with the right words I needed to hear. So many redeeming gifts were showered on me by philosophers and friends, authors, poets, artists and family. I decided to collect a top ten list of those ideas that were life-savers for me, gathered from ten years of carrying around a heart that was learning the pattern of stitches to mend itself.”
The following is number one of those ten:
“Realize that the most horrific question in life will never be answered to your satisfaction: Why did my child die? There is no acceptable answer. There is only putting one foot in front of the other, opening your heart as widely as you can, and inviting love to pour in and through every part of you as you walk into a new reality.
Saviors are everywhere. Search for them with as clear a focus as you can muster. Rest in their loving advice and believe them when they say – you are loved. Uncover the savior that lives inside you; listen and take to heart all the grace-filled messages reminding you to love yourself, preparing you for the possible. Don’t be afraid of the space in between what has been and what can be: Simply spend a quiet moment to wrap and warm yourself within your own arms . . . then step forward. There’s a door just ahead, opening into the light of a new time.”
If you haven’t read Grace, I invite you into a conversation between my son and his mother. Going to my website, www.janenicoletauthor.com and navigating to Books on the menu will help you find a copy. If it speaks to you, helps you in any way, please pass it on. Its purpose has always been to bring anyone in grief into a lighter and more grace-filled place.