I had great plans for this month. January is Emma’s birthday month and I planned to share a myriad of Emma stories and lessons I learned from her five years of life.

But something else happened. Something I didn’t fully expect, even though this dance of grief and hope has been the rhythm of my life for quite some time.

 
 
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Dear Me at 33,

Hello, sweet one. It’s me, at 43. Ten years and I’ve got to tell you it’s been, well, tough to say the least. There’s a part of me that wants to warn you what’s to come, but I’m quite sure you wouldn't believe me, even if I could.

But if I could somehow prepare you, offer words of encouragement, if I were somehow able to reach through time and send this letter, like in the movie The Lake House, here is what I would say.



 
 
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i remember the moment.

my youngest daughter and her dad had been admitted to the hospital in critical condition. a matter of life and death. staring at the carpet, the weight of reality pressed deep in my soul, squeezing my heart.

the morning started as usual: a quick walk., the older girls off to school, our littlest snuggled next to her daddy. the scene I left unfolded like most days.

a few minutes into my short commute to work, i realized i’d forgotten something at home. headed back, i mentally checked off tasks to be done while the recent sunday message played through my speakers. normal. expected. ordinary. until i turned down my street and gazed toward my home.

smoke. smoke poured out, seemingly from every window, every nook, every cranny.


 
 
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 the blank page stares at me, beckoning, challenging me to fill its space. to express the thoughts and ideas and rants stirring deep within. the flashing cursor dares me, taunting me to be courageous and share what's inside.

but until today, something has stopped me. silenced me. almost. every. time.

fear.

fear has been my companion for quite a while. i don't know if it took root as a child, the unsettledness of multiple moves, growing in strength as i became a young single mom, carrying the burden of another human's life fully dependent on me, alone and uncertain.

perhaps fear's roots crept deeper as i watched the man i loved succumb to a devastating stroke, forever altering the course of our marriage, our family, our lives. or maybe its grasp clutched tight as i stood on our driveway one cool march morning and watched fire destroy our home, snatching away the life of our littlest, gaining in strength through the years that followed her death, as life unraveled into heartbreak, sorrow, and seemingly irreparable brokenness. shame. failure. emptiness. all unwelcomed companions of fear, well equipped to silence any voice.