The first pediatric trauma I took care of was a boy whose foot had been severely injured when it was run over by a truck. He was screaming and it made me cry. (I cry a lot. It's a thing. I cried the other day on a breakfast date talking about how much I love and miss my nieces). Staci, teaching me who I wanted to become as a trauma practitioner taught me. "I love it when a kid is screaming. A screaming kid is breathing." I spent an entire session with Kate in therapy asking "How can I take care of a traumatically injured child and maintain a sense of composuse?"
Two years later, a little boy was hit by a car. Severely, but not critically injured, he looked up at me and said, "Could I be dead?" That moment the tears were not because of the pain but because of the gentle innocence as I said, "No bud, you're gonna be okay." I learned to hold it together.
The thing I've learned about love and loss is we don't feel loss unless we've loved. Real love. Strong love. Transcendent love. Love helps us grow, expand. Loss wrings out our imperfections, and if we let it, loss leaves us better than it found it. It's a hard way to learn, but in the end we can minister to those around us, love them more genuinely when we have learned through our own losses how to sit with people in theirs. How to just be there. To say yes. Yes it hurts. It hurts so much. And I am here. You don't have to be alone while you feel this. I am here with you and I hear you.
I thought for me that love and loss and moving on would be about my marriage, but really for me, it was about my Toby. That bright eyed five year old who just wanted me to get married so I could sleepover. The six year old who left me notes in the mailbox to find as I came home from work at 4 am to tell me that he liked me, loved me. The seven year old who wanted to sit next to me me in the quiet and color because it was so peaceful. That is my loss. But it is also my gain. My growth. My love. My expansion. That is the hurt I carry in my heart. That my Jesus carries in his. That my Gracie carries when she is alone. But man. I am so glad I feel that loss. I think this is different than love, loss, moving on. This is love, loss, and keep on loving and living. I know the sting will lessen over time, but I will always have a space for the love that Toby taught me. The loss that I felt in having to leave him behind, and the growth of my heart from the terrible and lovely process of learning that I had no regrets because I had learned to love him with my whole whole heart.