“Tell me more about your son,” said a man named Axel yesterday at our Axel Project booth at the USA Pro Challenge in Aspen. He came by because he saw the name and he wanted to know more about our Axel and share the Hebrew history of the name. We shared stories about Axel, the inspiration for our booth, and he shared with us that in his family the name Axel means at peace with the father. I knew Axel meant father of peace but I had never heard it explained as ‘at peace with the father.’ I was really touched by this man being so compassionate and taking time out of his busy day (he was working at the tour) to share this with us. And it brings comfort to think of his name this way… that he indeed is at peace and watching over us in some way, sending this Axel to us to share and remember him.
It’s easy to be sad, focus on the negative and the haters but it’s also easy to see happiness all around because once you know true sadness, evil, and hardship you know that happiness lies very close to sadness. Simple gestures by people bring smiles, a kind word brings tears, and something as simple as a bike ride makes you happy. True happiness does not happen in sunny fields, it happens after reflection in dark places.
A huge part of why I enjoy doing events for the Axel Project are moments like these. To connect with others who are brave enough to speak up and share. Right after Axel came by another man came up to me to share the story about his son Max. Max died a few weeks before Axel at 17 months. He died in his crib for no apparent reason. He was a happy toddler, walking and thriving one day and gone the next.
There are no words either of us could offer each other but as our other children rode around on bikes with huge smiles we knew that joy lives very close to tragedy.