Grief in Orange

A little boy passed away in our town a few days ago. He was fighting brain cancer for over a year and a half. He and his twin sister were in my daughters class, and they had become friends before her brother’s diagnosis.

Our community has rallied around this little boy in extraordinary ways.

Colors of orange sprinkle window shops downtown and light poles proudly boast the schools orange stripes. Support signs stand strong in yards around town and t-shirts grace the people that knew him. All wanting to cheer him on during his hardest weeks of chemo treatments and failing health.

When I pass the ribbon wrapped oaks lining the entrance of my children’s elementary school, it is hard for me to keep my emotions at bay. There is so much beauty in it, in this support. And there is so much heartbreak, when I think of the loss of his family.

Now we leave the orange there. To say we are sad. To say we are sorry. To say love to his family.

And that’s what love is, isn’t it? The heart ache that comes from the fact that there was love. The tears that well up, from seeing love. It takes us to the depths of feelings we can’t even communicate at times. It manifests within us.

Love makes our eyes linger on a face. It makes us re-read encouraging messages. Love makes us smile at a kindness. It reaches out our hands and steadies us in trying times. Love grabs our attention. It comes dashing out of us, when it is in need. Love is…

like a community painted in orange.

As our town lifts up this family in the only way we know how, and bares witness to the transition of a little boy’s place from earth to heaven, I can’t help but think about life’s vulnerability.

This feeling makes me want to wrap up my family and protect them forever. To seize every opportunity and show I care. To apologize for any unkind word and wasted time. It conjures up guilt for ever saying no to playing with my kids. Desperately, I want the word cherished to take up all the space in their sweet growing hearts.

The truth is, I can’t put them in a bubble of a pain free life. And, I can’t be perfect. What I can do, is be intentional with the time I have and the people I have it with. In my days and in little ways, I can speak love.

Perhaps James Taylor put it best, “Shower the people you love with love, show them the way you feel.”

Maybe with intentions set we will be inclined to hug our kids extra tight and speak kindness to our spouses. Smile at our neighbors and give our retired dreams another look. Laugh with old friends and eat off the good dishes. Enjoy the awe of every snowflake and not wish winter away.

This season is heavy for our little town. For many others suffering loss across the globe, I imagine it is the same grief driven ache experience. May our ever stretching souls see that what springs forth from broken hearts, is the beauty it once held. And what comes out of loss, is often nearness. And what comes from a shared life, are memories never ending.

Take heart dear friends. It’s okay to feel all the feelings. Remember that they feel that way, because they are worth their weight. Let us remember loss as our lesson; life is fleeting, but love is forever.

Praying for big hugs to wrap around you and the ability for all of us, to show a little love.

Especially, if it’s in the color of orange.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

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