Two years ago I sat at the table in Tucson, Arizona updating this blog and getting it ready to highlight our 2013 adventure driving to and living in Mexico for the winter. Axel was sleeping in his crib and Kalden was playing with his new lightsabers.
Tonight I sit at the table in Colorado updating the blog and getting it ready to highlight our 2015 adventure traveling again for the winter in Florida, California and more. Lars is sleeping in his crib and Kalden is once again playing with more new lightsabers.
And so it seems 2015 will start similar to 2013. Adventures, traveling, bikes, surfboards, homeschooling, baby raising, working on the road, giving back, and living all in.
Of course so much has changed, there is no denying that part. There is no forgetting the horror of 2013, the uncertainty and rebuilding of 2104, the daily longing for our sweet little Axel, the realization of death’s door that only comes from loss.
Any yet we’re back living all in and living life with purpose. Grief is different for everyone. For some people it’s the end, the light is gone and it’s not coming back. For others it’s an awakening and their life heads in a new direction. Others just ignore it.
What is grief for us? There is no doubt that a part of our light is gone forever. We will never be lighthearted adventurers anymore. The worst happened to us and it’s now part of our story. But our story goes on and it goes on in a similar direction it started. It goes on in that direction because we’ve been living all in for a long time.
We weren’t lost when Axel died. We didn’t need him to die to find our purpose. Our purpose was pretty damn awesome at the point. And that fact has been the biggest salvation with our grief. While we will never “get over” anything we are able to move forward because we have always known what is important to our family.
They say the biggest test of your passion and life purpose is not tragedy or failure but rising up after it. Our adventure to Mexico was the biggest tragedy of our lives. I guess you could also say we failed as travelers. We can’t join the other traveling families that declare family travel as always safe or essential to family bonding. Our child was murdered in Mexico. It doesn’t really fit in nicely on the family travel writing circuit.
But we move forward with reflection and resilience. We move forward with dirt on our face, a messy story, critics, triumphs, short comings, and miracles. Life isn’t about victory or defeat. It’s about both.
Now our purpose is a bit different than when we left for Mexico two years ago. I don’t think you can go through what we have and come out the same. But the heart of who we were before is still the heart of who we are now – our hearts are just broken wide open. Trivial things matter less and the big things matter more. Getting caught up in other people’s drama, fake relationships, hate, living to other people’s standards, income, titles, a big home or doing things just because that’s what we’re suppose to do are trivial.
And, the big things that have always mattered now matter with urgency.
So our plan for 2015 is to keep moving forward, life all in, as before. Tragedy isn’t the end of our story but it’s now at the heart of it… Smack dab in the middle of our messy yet beautiful life.
And we think it’s an important story to start sharing and plan to do more of that in a productive worthwhile format. As we continue to talk about our life purpose and plans it’s clear that there are parts of our story that should be shared. There are even the parts that we’ve yet to tell anyone about those first days in Mexico after Axel died. As we start to look back at those days it’s the stuff in movies…not OUR lives. But it is our life.
When we first came back to the states it would have been pretty easy to share our story on a global scale. Within minutes of touching US soil our phones were ringing from CNN, NBC, CBS and on and on…and when they couldn’t get the grieving parents live on camera during those early moments most of the media went away. And we were grateful that they went away. I even took down this blog for a month so that it would be harder for the media to put together a story without our input. We know that nothing good would have come from sharing our story to the media at that point except pure voyeurism and possibly hate. The hate was probably the biggest factor. We heard of some outlets using our story to promote fear and hate and that was not what we wanted Axel’s death to be associated with. His story needed to be about his life, his joy. His death was not going to be used to further anyone’s agenda or fears.
I’m all for vulnerability but vulnerability at the wrong time is worthless. Sharing our vulnerability now that we’ve processed and reflected seems right. And some of that media is coming back and interested in the bigger story. The one about the tragedy but also about the growth and hope.
I want people to know our story not to give them fear but to except that when you live all in there’s a chance that something really bad can happen. Don’t act like there is no risk by living all in. Because guess what… there’s a big risk. And it’s okay. It’s okay because even when you don’t live all in there’s a chance that something really bad can happen. And when all you’ve known is safe, when all you’ve been is cold hearted, and when all you’ve felt is timid that’s going to be a pretty big hole to dig out of.
But when you live all in and tragedy strikes you are able to get back up, wipe some (not all) of that dirt off your face and continue moving in the direction of your life’s purpose. You’ve done the hard work already and you have your compass. It’s now time to gather it all back up and continue on.
So here’s to everyone moving in the direction of their life’s purpose in 2015.
Happy New Year!