Grief shapes us. There is no question that at the age of 35, no other event has shaped me in the way that losing my son did seven years ago. Grief came between my wife and I where nothing and nobody else has ever been able to do so. Grief connected me to a fraternity I never asked to be a part of. A fraternity in our case specifically of parents who outlive their children. This isn't what we wanted.
Loss changes us. I walk through hospitals differently now. I'm reminded of the regular faces of security guards, cleaning staff, hospitality teams and of course; doctors and nurses. The faces are different now, but familiarity still exists. I find myself leaning in and listening if I meet someone at a coffee shop with a family member who is ill, or a friend who recently passed. I've grown a desire to listen intently, and honor someone's story with my attention. This isn't who I used to be.
God sustains us. Although grief gave our marriage a rough "shake" God's love has brought us togetherness that we would never have experienced without the pain. While loss has given us some battle scars, we have found our story to be an on-ramp to meaningful conversations with many different people, from all walks of life, and births hope through the Gospel for living another day.
While a twinge of guilt creeps in when I realize I haven't thought of him as often, or when I realize on days like today that the memories aren't as vivid as they used to be, I can still smile. Josiah's legacy lives in me. His half-a-heart still beats in my chest. I might be the only one to see his picture on my wall every morning, but his imprint on my life can be seen by everyone.
I love you Josiah.