Being strong sucks.
It really does, sometimes.
I’m not a big in public crier. Something in me likes to stay somewhat poised. I tend to be less articulate when I let the tears out, so how can I effectively convey my thoughts when I can’t form a coherent sentence? I cry at home, in the car in the grocery store parking lot, in my room (oh, so many tears are held in that room), and a few times in an empty room at church when I could feel the really loud, uncontrollable stuff coming on. I’ve had silent tears fall in dressing rooms and restaurant tables. I’ve held my sobbing children and quietly let my heaving chest and tears on their heads tell them that they are not alone in their pain.
I also get angry. I’m equally good at not letting that anger show. Tonight, I suppose, I just really don’t care if it does.
Why do some stories get so much attention? Why do some things go viral? How tragic does something need to be for people to pay attention? I suppose it’s not about tragedy or triumph most of the time. It’s about what fits an angle for the media. What works for some agenda.
Just shy of 8 months is no time. It’s no time in the world of grief. If you could see the images that haunt my nightmares, know the things that I know, you’d know what I mean. It would be easier to understand why we’re so determined to make good things come from Caleb’s death. The work we strive to do would become a burning passion in others, too.
But people don’t. So it’s a little lonely. And exhausting.
I’ve spent hundreds of hours over the last several months planning Caleb’s foundation’s first big fundraiser for the end of this month. I’ve had a bit of help here and there from friends who give what they can of their time. I’m so grateful for their help and support. I’ve had more meetings, sent more emails, worked more contact/networking angles than I ever dreamed possible. And I feel like I’m spinning my wheels. The more dirt flies up behind me, the more disappointment I face, the more “no’s” I hear, the more my determination grows. I just have to be careful that it grows in a good way, with a focus on the work we are trying to do. Otherwise, I’d be consumed by the anger and frustration. Otherwise, I’d give up and the tears that come out of frustration would win.
At times it feels like as the world has moved on, the work we’re trying to do is viewed as a desperate attempt to hold onto Caleb. As if it’s something we need to move on from, too. Some hail Mary pass to never let go. The thing is, while hail Mary passes are often dropped, when they aren’t they usually win the game.
We’ve seen a need. We need to fill it. We can’t walk away. We won’t leave the field. The ball is in the air, the defensive opposition is all around, but we won’t drop the pass. This is a hail Mary to help and save lives, to better our community, to honor our son. It’s not about never letting go. He is with us always. There is never the option to let go. There is only the option to dishonor him and his memory. The option to discard his existence and all we’ve learned.
So, to all the “no’s” we’ve heard, to those who won’t talk about him, listen to our message, or help us share it, tonight I say…
P.S. If you’re reading this, it likely has absolutely nothing to do with you. You’re here, you continue to be here, on this journey with us. So thanks for “listening” to my rant. Just pretend it came at Applebee’s over half priced apps while we listen to the local slew of college kids and middle-aged drunk people sing karaoke.