Life throws you curve balls. Sometimes they’re little bumps that you can handle. But sometimes they’re blows that knock you flat and leave you wondering if you’ll ever get up. And if you do get up, you’re not sure you’ll be the same. That’s what happened to me.
Four years ago, I set out on a solo road trip from Minnesota through the Southwest. My goal was to go beyond my comfort zone while discovering new corners of states that were close to my heart. I had taken a leave of absence from my busy acupuncture practice and packed up my car for a month of exploring Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. That was my plan, but what actually happened was something else entirely.
About a week into my trip, my son Andrew, who happened to live in Colorado, got sick. And not just a little sick, he was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive kind of cancer for which there is no cure. Essentially, this cancer would take his life and fairly quickly. As a parent, how do you deal with that? This was new and devastating territory for which I had no knowledge on how to cope.
What I did was spend every second that I could soaking up Andrew’s presence and committed myself to being there for whatever he needed. My husband and I took him to chemo, walked his dog, and were available day or night. I kept it together as best I could and grieved in private. I coped by staying in the moment, accepting help when it was offered, and appreciating the unexpected gifts that the universe threw our way.
And I wrote; it’s what I do.
What I wrote is a book called “Love Pain: Stories of Loss and Survival.” It’s a collection of stories that weaves entries from Andrew’s journals with my own story as we rode a daily roller coaster between hope and breathtaking despair. It’s about Andrew discovering himself during a time when he was coming to terms with an incurable illness and his impending death. It’s also about my coming to the realization that I was losing my son. While many of the stories in “Love Pain” are about times that were unbearably sad, they also describe a time of wonder, love, and incredible grace.
In the aftermath of Andrew’s death, I found there were many books and resources on grief and the loss of a child. However, from the first moment of Andrew’s diagnosis through his last days, I struggled to find written material that would have helped me as I looked for ways to cope with his terminal diagnosis and the anticipation of losing him. I wrote “Love Pain” in the hope that it will help someone else who is experiencing deep loss, but also as a source of inspiration for anyone during difficult times.
“Love Pain” is set against the backdrop of tragic loss, to be sure. However, the stories also talk about travel, small miracles, and incredible acts of kindness. It offers readers real lessons on living intensely in the moment, finding strength, and looking below the surface of catastrophe to find small gifts and unexpected blessings. You can find “Love Pain” online.
Lynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist and the author of “Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health.” This article was originally published on AcupunctureTwinCities.com