My yearlong quest is over.

I spent my birthday in Minneapolis, reflecting, in gratitude, and connecting with beloved family. We talked a lot about grief, and where our journeys have taken each of us.

We were all grieving the same person, Leah, and we all had profoundly different experiences. Each of our lives were frozen in the moment she left us physically, and each of us chose to look deeply at our lives and decide if we wanted to figure out how to thaw out that moment and see how it had changed us.

Grief does that; it changes us.

For me, some of those changes were evident early on. I knew I couldn’t stay stuck in the never ending days of distraction and diversion, even though I wanted to do just that. Something inside me knew, even then, that I was being called to something greater. I knew that staying stuck would not honor Leah, would not be an example for Peter, and would not give me any chance of staying in relationship with Dan.

In our conversation last week, I said that

my grief journey has been like a compost pile,

and everyone laughed, and then we went on to talk about how it has been just that, for all of us. We each took all of our pain, devastation, suffering, and feelings that we didn’t even know existed and mixed them together with prayers, faith, willingness to not know where we were going, and time.

Along the way we found grace, blessing, and love.

We found what we needed to dig deep and do the work that grief illuminated in each of us. From that pile of messy feelings newness began to arise. I began to process my grief with Samyama, present moment awareness, I was called to walk with others on their journey, I wrote my book and companion journal, I was able to heal my childhood wounds on a much deeper level. Healing my wounds allows me to show up in my own life in a fuller way, to embrace my own radiance,

without needing to diminish my true essence.

Much like table scraps mixed with water, sunlight, mixing, and time turn into fertile soil to grow next year’s garden, my new life today was nourished by the scraps of my old life combined with blessings and grace. This also dispels the myth that time alone can heal; it’s very much the work that is done during that time. My shoulder is a great example of that. If I had ignored my PT exercises, I would have nowhere near the range of motion I now have 4+ months after surgery.

This is my piece of the compost pile, Dan and Peter have their own, and those are their stories to tell. Our trajectory as a family is changing too.

We are planning to build a tiny home in Peter’s backyard

so we can spend more time with him. As we were discussing all of this I felt a deconstruction of old templates falling away as we made plans for a more connected future together. I’m not sure it would have been possible if we all didn’t say yes to our doing the work necessary to claw our way through the brambles of our journeys. I am grateful beyond measure that we did say yes.

What I know now is that the unfolding of my heart could not have happened in the way it has without the journey I’ve been through, and continue to go through without Leah’s physical presence.

The exquisite divine arrangement of what that means is so heartbreaking.

It is the true essence of the cost of losing Leah.