A friend of Calder's, a boy in his class, had a brain tumor removed a couple weeks ago. It is cancerous. He is 6. 

I have heard people speak about how strong his mom has been. I feel no doubt in the truth of this. I have thought over and over about the strength this mama is portraying. So much so that I felt the need to reread this post from 5 years ago. It is one of my favorites

The first time I began thinking about being strong was right after Tripp's funeral.  We were standing around and people were coming by to pay us their respects.  Over and over, people were saying, "you are so strong".  My immediate thought was no, I'm not.  No, I'm not. NO I'M NOT.

In the next few weeks, I got more emails, cards, and words about how strong I was.  I felt uncomfortable with it.  It would be one thing for someone to compliment me on having a good ball game, or being a good teacher.   I believe those things, so I am flattered when someone says them to me and feel at ease thanking them for the compliment.  The strength compliment was different.  I didn't feel strong.  I felt like I was surviving--at times barely getting by--that's not being strong. 

Often times, along with complimenting me on my strength, people would say things like, "I wouldn't survive" or "I wouldn't be able to leave my room" or "I would just crawl into a hole."  These things were meant to add to the original comment of how strong I was--people were putting me above themselves. They wanted me to know that they felt I was stronger than them.  All these comments felt like lies to me, because I knew how wrong the people were that said them (even though they had the best intentions).  Those people would leave their room, because they had other children to care for.  They wouldn't crawl into a hole because they would want to be there to support their spouse.  They would survive, because that is just what you have to do.  I wasn't stronger than them, because I knew that if I could survive this tragedy, so could they.  These people would be equally as strong as me.  I wasn't special.

Some people commented on how strong I was to write my blog.  The thing about my blog is that it isn't about strength at all.  It really is a way for me to deal with my feelings.  I need this blog to grieve.  Tripp started me on this blogging journey and I feel like I am honoring his memory by continuing to do it.  I also do it for selfish reasons (and it doesn't bother me one bit that I do).  Right now, I need to know that people are still thinking about me and when I see that there are 250 hits on my blog a day, I know that people are.

So, up until today I was going to write the "Strong" post about how I am NOT strong. . . The post was going to be more about surviving.  It changed today when I read my friend Becky's post Update, Strength and Bravery.  I didn't expect this post to be about me, so I was quite surprised as I started reading it.  In it, Becky says, "when I see her next, I will hug her and I will tell her that she is one of the strongest and bravest woman I know."  As I read that, I thought, why can't I be strong?  Or maybe even brave? I had thought that other people would be as strong as me in the same circumstances.  Wouldn't I have to be strong in order for others to be as strong as me?  I began to think that everyone who chooses to survive tragedy is strong--that means I am strong.  

At our counseling appointment this morning, I relayed my revelation to Brad and he helped me to better define it.  

Being strong doesn't mean you stand alone.  In fact, you can't be strong if you stand alone. Being strong is having people around you to support you and being brave enough to ask them to listen or for help.  

I am strong because my husband is strong (and he would say he is strong because I am strong).  We are strong together.  After our initial emotional breakdown upon hearing how sick Tripp was, I told Hugh that I was so thankful that, if I had to go through something like this,  I was doing it with him.  I was strong because of Hugh and I continue to be strong because of him.

I am strong, because our families rallied around us and continue to rally around us.  They cook, clean, change diapers, talk, say nothing, give us hugs and leave us alone.  They do whatever is needed and I know that I can do whatever I need to do because of them.

I am strong because of my friends.  They cried with me and for me.  They brought over meals and made play dates so I wouldn't be alone when Hugh went back to work.  They do anything I ask and more.

I am strong because of my community.  Our work communities, extended family and dozens of different groups of acquaintances and friends have emailed, called, visited, sent cards and food.  People from all different parts of our lives reached out to us and that gives me strength.

I am also brave.  You need to be brave to ask for help.  You need to be brave to face your darkest days.  You need to be brave to choose to survive.  I am brave.

So, for those of you who complemented me on my strength, I finally feel I am at a place to thank-you.  I am strong.  I am strong because of you and all the people around me.

I am sending strength to Calder's friend. His mom. His dad. And his entire family. I am being a member of their community and reaching out in the ways I know how. I want to help them be strong. If you have something to give - a prayer or positive thoughts, I know this family would appreciate them. 

Be kind. Hug your people. 


  1. Like grief, strength looks different and is felt differently by everyone. I have always admired your candour, resiliency, and ability to share such an intimate part of your life. I am glad you are embracing your strength. ��

    1. Thank, Rebecca. I totally agree. Like grief, strength look different for everyone.

  2. Oops- commented on your old post instead of this one..but beautiful nonetheless. You are strength to me- not only because I see what you can do on a ball diamond, but because of who you are and what you stand for. Love you lots, friend.

    1. Love you too, Deena. And thanks for seeing me as strong.

  3. why am I crying? You are amazing and your words are so touching. So too is your ability to capture your thought process and the realization that you ARE strong and where that strength comes from. You are also a hero, because I know there are so many other people/women/parents who have been made stronger because of things you have shared.
    Sending hope, love and prayers to Calder's friend's family and to you :)

    Simply Shaunacey

    1. I really enjoyed re-reading this post because of the thought process I went through. I wish I took more time to write stuff like this now. Writing is such a good way for me to work things through.

      Funny you should mention about making other people stronger. I just got a private message from someone today saying just that same thing. It is never my intention when I write, but I love how people connect with what I am saying. Thanks for the prayers.


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