There are a few rules we take for granted in life.
We sleep safely in our beliefs that if you are a good person, good things will happen to you.
We hear tragic stories, but deep down, we know these things won’t happen to us. One of the most concrete beliefs we hold is that a parent should never have to bury his or her child.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
The awful reality is, every day, parents are burying their children.
My best friend has suffered through losing two sets of twins, through preterm labor at 22 and 24 weeks, respectively.
One of her little boys, Tye, managed to fight for four days in the NICU. His brother and two sisters were born sleeping.
These are the five biggest things I have learned from supporting her through these obscene tragedies:
1. There are no guarantees.
Sure, we can plan and prepare as much as we like. We can do the right things and follow the guidelines to a T.
We can do everything we are meant to do, but there is no guarantee you will get the outcome you so desperately want. There is no magic formula to ensure results.
While it would be foolish to live a life without making any plans or setting any goals, the best-laid plans can also unfortunately lead you nowhere.
2. Growing old should be cherished.
We should not have to stand at a child’s funeral to realize this. But sadly, sometimes we are too absorbed in the horror of finding a new wrinkle or a gray hair to realize getting old is a privilege.
It is an honor denied to too many.
I am sure if those beautiful babies had the chance to stress out over a quarter-life crisis, or moan about an impending 30th birthday, they would have taken it in a heartbeat.
3. Life is tragically beautiful.
Life will break your heart.
There will be moments when you can’t imagine how you can possibly go on. You will be subject to heartache and tragedy you would not wish upon your worst enemy.
But through this heartache, there will be moments of beauty. These are the things that make continuing the fight worth it.
The love between two bereaved parents at their child's funeral.
The strength of a community pulling together to support someone in his or her darkest hour. The genuine empathy and care shown by a nurse to a person she will likely never see again.
Life can be awful, but it can be beautiful as well.
4. You are stronger than you think.
Watching my best friend fight through one of the worst situations I could possibly imagine left me in absolute awe of her strength. I told her how brave she is.
She looked at me and replied, "What choice do I have?"
This is a woman who has faced one of the worst nightmares we can imagine four times.
But she can sit in her kitchen with me, drinking tea and laughing about ridiculous things, because she realized the only choice she had was to keep going.
My best friend is the most inspiring, bravest person I have ever met.
This gives me hope that when faced with tragedy, we are all stronger than we ever thought we could be.
5. Reach out to those around you.
You will never know what a difference a short text or a quick phone call to someone you love can make. You never know when you might need these people to rally around you.
Don’t wait for something awful to happen. Let the people you love know you love them.
You might not get tomorrow. You might not get another chance.
Send your best friend a text right now, and let him or her know how much he or she means to you.
Call your parents and tell them you love them. Walk outside and feel the sun (or the rain) on your face, and smile.
You are alive, and you are so lucky to be here.