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8 days: the shepherds were told to go

December 19, 2014

It’s a really great “job” I have, sitting on a philanthropic and community-minded board. Three times today, I had the opportunity to go spend give back funds for others in our community. It is such a wonderful feeling to give, and I love being a part of this organization. Joy, utter joy, is the best way to describe what it is like to give expecting nothing in return.

In the midst of all this elation filled giving, I received a text message from my sister. Her inquiry was as honest and heartfelt as I had fielded in a while. Recently a dear friend of hers lost her husband in a very tragic way. My heart still hurts for them. My baby sister wanted to know if it was okay to send a Christmas card. Ironically, I had read a blog yesterday about that very topic. My personal experience was so much different than the author’s I struggled just to get through it. Many of the cards and well wishes we received that first Christmas did exactly what the author requested; they acknowledged the hurt we were pushing through.

My first suggestion was to definitely send a card, but to make sure to send a note expressing that you are thinking of her and that you understand how difficult this first Christmas is going to be. All the firsts will be. But to be honest, I found the second year much more challenging than the first. The reality of the empty (chair, stocking, Easter basket, or backpack) of the second year was, for me, much more despair-inducing because the hole was always going to be there. Reed wasn’t coming back, and as a doer, I needed to do something to fill that hole.

The morning after the crash with one son gone and one son fighting for his life in intensive care, my best friend asked me one question. Do I need to go get you some yarn and knitting needles? Like I said, I am a doer. It takes a very special friend to recognize your need “to do something” to help you heal, which ties in to the second suggestion I made to my sister today.

Through my flying fingers, I suggested acknowledge the hurt, but more importantly, DO SOMETHING in her honor of her friend who had passed. An act of kindness or a gift in memory reminds the world the person we loved was here. They mattered. They made a difference. Their light shone brightly while they were here. We had a few of those kinds of cards too. These cards, like soothing balm, told us they were praying for us, they gave to a child in need, they were lighting a candle in our son’s memory or my personal favorite they shared a Reed story.

The healing began through those acts of kindness, no matter how big or small. For a doer like me, the leap to paying it forward wasn’t a hard one to make. Sitting on a board that has a mission of pouring back into its community wasn’t a stretch either. My son loved to give to others, and every time we do, in his name or in private, his light continues to shine . . . like a beacon peeking out from the holes in our hearts.

Cheetahs - Reed's favorite animal.  Given as part of the Reed Stevens Memorial Legacy Program at Avera McKennon hospital to any surviving sibling of a child who passes away at the same hospital Reed did.

Cheetahs – Reed’s favorite animal. Given as part of the Reed Stevens Memorial Legacy Program at Avera McKennon hospital to any surviving sibling of a child who passes away at the same hospital Reed did.

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