It’s been eleven years since one of my twin sons almost died in an accident at the beach. Eleven years since a stranger intervened and turned our lives from grief to joy. Eleven years of being able to move forward with our family intact and love both of these beautiful children every single day.
Eleven years is a long time to live with a miracle. It’s easy in the day-to-day to forget what a gift each moment really is. It’s easy to let the intensity of the near-loss and the unexpected recovery to fade as the press and stress of daily life takes over. But on the anniversary of almost losing him, I stop to remember how close we came to disaster, and I recommit myself to nurturing gratitude for and mindfulness of the profound gift of life.
It’s hard sometimes for me to talk about this experience publicly, because I know so many people who have suffered the loss of a child (including in sand hole collapses), and I don’t want my own celebration after a near-loss to be somehow insensitive to parents who grieve. And yet it is precisely this – the fact that any one of us could lose any beloved and precious person at any time – that compels me to write. To live in the awareness of the fragility of life is to discover that every breath is a miracle, every moment we have with anyone we love is a miracle. I got a real honest-to-goodness miracle on the beach that day, thanks to a woman who was radically open to the stirrings of the Spirit. But each of us is surrounded by miracles every day, and the world is so much better when we treat each other with the awe and wonder and gratitude befitting this reality.
A lot has changed in my life since the last time I wrote about our miracle on the beach. A lot has changed even since this picture above, of our family last fall. In January, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a rare, aggressive soft tissue cancer, and by the time it was discovered, it was already Stage IV. I was feeling well when I was diagnosed, and I’m feeling well still, but it’s been a hard few months of treatments and major life decisions and trying to survive.
Our family looks like this now. I no longer have the hair that Rob and I have always shared. There have been a lot of other losses along the way, but what happened on the beach in Santa Rosa in 2007 reminds me daily not only that life can change in an instant but also that impossibly good things can happen even after things have gone horrifyingly wrong. So I face every day with a lot of hope. And joy. And the love of the three men in this picture as well as a wide web of family and friends who are holding me up.
Even though I rarely write in this space anymore, I had to come by and invite my readers again to celebrate with me that we got our son back. Thank you for sharing in our joy and gratitude. [I’ll be back tomorrow with a more practical reminder about sand hole safety!]