I met Melissa seven years ago as a client for her business and then was privileged enough to know her more deeply as a client for mine. It was her huge heart that I first came to know (and love), and even in the midst of tremendous heart ache, she continues to pour love into the world. Without further ado, this is brave:
Brave is the little girl who sits by herself at the breakfast table while I pack her lunch or take a shower. No longer a chatty, noisy morning, but one spent in quiet loneliness.
Brave is the young woman, biting her lip to hold back tears in her AP English class, as they discuss loss and love in The Poisonwood Bible. Knowing, better than the teacher, what the author hoped to get across.
Brave is the man who goes to the office every morning, knowing he will return to a fraction of his family. Who smiles at stories of co-workers’ children and remains genuinely interested, though he knows he will never have new stories to tell about his son.
Brave is what we call someone who faces their fears and perseveres through a difficult challenge. So, I guess I fit that definition. I have spent the last four months living every parent’s worst fear and I get up every morning and keep going.
There are no eloquent words to describe the pain of losing a child. It is unending. It feels exactly as you would imagine it would, but worse. Having grown a child inside of my body, it was hard enough to have him away from me in life. To have him gone from this earth is beyond unbearable. I understand why some parents become reclusive after losing a child, but I feel the need to do something. For me, it is harder to stay in bed and cry. They say that ” life goes on” and it is true. Though it seems impossible, the earth keeps spinning, the sun keeps shining, the seasons change and we have to make the choice to keep moving forward. I will keep my son, Joshua, with me every step of the way. The love I have for him will never fade. It will infuse everything that I do.
Joshua died on July 7 after a 13 day battle with E. coli 0157H7, which he contracted from eating contaminated grass-fed ground beef. My husband and I are working to improve Food Safety and Public Health protocol. We are working to make changes at the national level, as well as holding production facilities and retail establishments accountable for the safety of the food they produce and provide.
We have started a foundation in Joshua’s name, to continue his passion for helping animals and children around the world. We will also work with other families who have lost children, to remember their children with a community service project that is meaningful to them.
Really, I just don’t know what else to do. My girls need me to show them that there can be happiness, even if it will never be as great as it would have been with Josh.
There is work to be done, love to be given, and joy to be spread.
Melissa Kaye is a Boston-based green-living expert, blogger, radio personality and parenting ninja. (And she just wrote a very moving piece of the Huffington Post called Why I am Jealous of Your Noisy, Messy Days.)