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How Barbie Faced Mortality

Updated: Jan 11

Congratulations, Greta Gerwig. You got us. You made us look at our mortality through candy colored glasses and we as an audience laughed out loud. When Barbie shows signs of questioning her perfect existence and gets flat feet, we lean into her humanity.

I was relieved that this topic was a theme in this blockbuster movie. My husband told me that I might bum people out if I speak of grief too often, which made me take pause because it is a very real part of the human condition.The realist of the real! No one is immune. It’s where I am, and I believe, it is a conversation that must be had.

It’s not Tim’s fault because, as a couple, we each have our own way of handling this colossal hole in our hearts. I have a need to talk about it and Tim’s more private.

When we lost our lost Hayden I could barely breathe... much less form a sentence. I have traveled a great distance yet stand exactly where I was. It’s hard to explain this kind of pain. I am coming out of shock. I will always miss him and the loss forces me to look at my own mortality and life. So delicate and precious.

I laughed so loud the other day that I caught myself…but it wasn't because of guilt…it surprised me. I never thought I would laugh again. Hayden had a great sense of fun and a funny nature. He was always seeking his next adventure. He would want me to laugh again. Laughter brings oxygen into my house and my heart, where Hayden lived, loved and laughed. I’m welcoming joy back into my life and not placing judgment on it.

When I first lost Hayden I was in complete shock. Thank goodness for my small community and their kind and generous hearts who were so helpful to me and my family. The expression of love and support caught me off guard and I believe I underestimated the very people that have lived next door to me for the past twenty years. The Memorial was outdoors in a tiny amphitheater at the Peter Strauss Ranch nestled between beautiful ancient oaks. The evening sun dappled the little stage that was overflowing with wildflowers and custom art featuring Hayden flying through the air on his skateboard. My heart was filled with so much appreciation for my neighbors as they did for me the very things I could not do for myself.

Family flew in from different parts of the country and around three hundred people of all ages attended the memorial. To this day, I don’t understand how I somehow managed to stand on stage and calmly share about Hayden’s lifelong passion of world history. It is all a bit of a blur and I honestly don’t know how I did a lot of things during this living nightmare..

When our family went home, our lives became very quiet and strange. People are uncomfortable when you’re grieving the loss of a child so they leave you alone. Thank goodness my neighbors stayed in touch or the silence would have been deafening. I often found myself waiting for Hayden to come barreling down the stairs. He was the only child still living at home and I loved the many nights, Tim, Hayden and I would have dinner huddled around the coffee table in our living room.

Grief is lonely even in a roomful of people and parties are the worst. If you want to clear a room, just turn the conversation toward your deceased child. What a bummer. People need you to be ok and you’re not and I won't be for a while (like forever). I wish we could all settle in and get comfortable because this situation it isn’t going anywhere soon. This is my grim reality. If you love, you will eventually lose someone.

When I recently saw the smash hit Barbie movie, I wanted to hug director Greta Gerwig for having Barbie address the topic of dying. Spoiler: The fact that Barbie chose real life (meaning she would eventually die) was so poignant. If I had a choice like Barbie, I’d do it all over again, knowing that I’d experience the pain of losing a child. Hayden’s very existence and early exit has made me a better person. The pain of the loss does not outweigh the good. My heart and my newfound mission with Soul Mamas is driven by my love for my dear lost boy.

The other day, I saw a post about 'toxic positivity’ and I don't believe there is such a thing. I have definitely experienced a lot of horrible negative days where I believe that life sucks. I remember feeling this way one other time in my life when I was 13 and lost three grandparents rapidly. As a kid, I lived right across the street from both sets of grandparents, so this was earth shattering and was followed by my Mothers long term illness and death when I was 21 years old.

As a thirteen year old girl, losing so many loved ones so quickly imprinted strongly on my young self and I recognized mortality at a young age which triggered a zest for life.

My Dad said to me “Honey, we are all in this together”. Although he meant our family in this context, in my heart I took it a step further and recognize that the family of man is in this together. It is time we examine this wild beast called grief and surround each other with love because grief is not an isolated event. We are all connected.

The measure of who we are is how we react to something that doesn’t go our way. - Gregg Popovich


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