“Even the darkest hour has only sixty minutes.” – Morris Mandel
I remember the scream. Oh, how I remember the scream. The words that followed were worse, much worse. But I will never forget that scream. For months, I heard it over and over in my head. It gave me chills. It made me sad. It reminded me of so much darkness.
It was Friday morning, February 24th, 2012. A phone rings. Then that scream. Maybe, it was a gasp. All I know is that it followed words a mother should never have to speak about her son, that an aunt should never have to hear about her nephew.
It…it’s Le…Levi…he’s…he’s…(long pause)…gone!
That is how I found out from my mom that our family had lost a son, a brother, a father, a nephew, a cousin, a friend. A month after his 21st birthday; a week after his daughter’s 1st. Just like that.
But this is not a story of sadness. This is not even a tribute in remembrance (as many people have already written and spoken beautiful words in his honor that would make mine pale in comparison).
This is a story about courage. This is a story about strength. This is a story about picking up the pieces from your darkest hour to live again.
I will not pretend that we are no longer grieving, and believe we likely will be in many ways for the rest of our lives. I will not pretend that our lives have been hit harder than others or that our pains are greater than others. Every struggle is uniquely different in its own way.
But, my Aunt is a champion and an inspiration. While she would never believe this for herself, she is one of the strongest and most courageous women I know. She grieves with a smile on her face. She grieves with a hand out to help others. She grieves through loving other people. She celebrates his life by living hers.
I often hear her say something along the lines of “I miss him, and I always will. But I’m thankful for the 21 years that I got to have him. He’s been called to something greater, and I’ll see him again soon.”
My Aunt reminds me that it is perfectly normal to be devastated when life throws hardship in our path. But, she also reminds me that sometimes the best way to get through the toughest times is to be blessed for what we have been given, say thank you, and just keep right on living.
I still hear the scream, but it no longer haunts me. I hear it, and no longer think of a tragedy, but of the strength, courage, and resilience to overcome one.
“Rise above the storm, and you will find the sunshine.” – Mario Fernandez (as spoken by the priest at my cousin’s funeral Mass)
So, if you are dealing with a difficult moment in your life, don’t forget to rise up and continue to live on—day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute. It will be hard, but the sun will shine again.
Bring your best today!