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She is always with us

The sky is a perfect blue and the air, both crisp and soft, a combination reflecting autumn’s beginning and the tail end of late summer. Shirt-sleeved neighbors and the sounds of playing children dot the landscape of this neighborhood. Dion opens to my knock; we greet each other and he leads me into the kitchen area to set up. I place myself at the table so that I can look outside through the kitchen’s patio door because I’m drawn to the backyard – a place that appears designed for laughter, running, climbing, jumping, and playing with the two, big, gentle dogs who also call it home. But what really catches my eye is the tall, two-storied wooden playhouse, built against the back fence. It seems such a perfect place for children to flex their energetic and imaginative muscles. Clearly this home belongs to its children. I turn to see Taia’s lovely, welcoming smile, and soon we three settle in to the business of talking about a cherished child, Lyla Hope.

I learn much about Taia and her resilient family as our interview unfolds. As we near its end, Taia’s memories turn to a talk she had with her mother, asking her the questions most all bereaved parents pose at one time or another: Why me? Why us?

There is no one answer for these questions borne of such tender, despairing heartache. But Taia’s mother’s response has helped this couple find one life-affirming answer: someday you will understand why something so horrific has happened, and as you grow and learn and time passes, you will have the choice to use your experience, the people with you, and those who have past to help others. “I’ve always hoped that I could just help somebody else through their journey of grief and use that for good in the world,” Taia shares. She realizes that the pain may never leave but we can learn how to live in a different way with its presence and its wounds – with Grace – a way that builds rather than destroys.

As always, I send you Grace for your journey, Jane

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