It’s been over 6 weeks now since I last heard Stephanie’s heartbeat, held her hand, gave her a kiss, or looked into her beautiful and loving eyes. Those 6 weeks have been excruciating and challenging in more ways than I could ever describe, and so I won’t even try. I was very hesitant to write another entry on Stephanie’s blog, with it being something she did and in a sense I feel was hers even though I added some entries for her when she couldn’t. Even as I write this, I’m doubting whether I want to post it or not. But there are a few things that have nudged me to at least share a few posts, although they won’t be weekly or probably even monthly as time goes by…
The first was something a now very close friend shared with me a little over a week before Stephanie passed. She sent me a picture of the blog with the title circled. She said that regardless of the outcome, that the words were perfect because “survival will always be. (…) survival exists no matter which way God calls your family.” When Stephanie originally wrote those words on her title page, I know she meant it as a physical survival and beating cancer despite the terrible odds stacked against her. But the fact that she’s gone doesn’t change the fact that she can survive, but only if we choose to help her survive.
The same idea was at the core of her funeral mass. Our priest here at home challenged everyone when he said: “How are we being called to share our gifts with others? (…) If we want to give fitting testimony, fitting memory of Stephanie, (…) how can I better share what I have, this moment I have, this gift I have, with others?”
Our priest from our previous parish told a story about a musician who was writing a masterpiece and died before completing it, but had told his friends it was up to them to finish it if he wasn’t able. Our priest said, “What are we going to do about Stephanie’s unfinished masterpiece? (…) What about in a month or several months from now? Can we, will we all, build on her laughter, her radiating smile, her unrealized dreams? (…) Across the chasm of death, we can make Stephanie live. (…) To remember is to keep alive, to forget is to let die. Keep remembering. Keep telling your stories of Stephanie and her life. (…) By the way we live, let us remember to keep Stephanie alive in ourselves, let us all continue the great masterpiece that is Stephanie.”
So that’s my intent in continuing with the occasional blog post. It isn’t going to be an update on how Sarah and I are getting through life or a way for me share with everyone my grieving or challenges, plentiful as those are. (On a side note, I would encourage anyone who’s been following this blog to follow Stephanie’s best friend since birth who started a blog about grief. It can be found here: https://benotafraid7.blogspot.com). Rather, my hope is that in writing occasional posts that I can achieve a few things. First, I hope I can share with you how I continue to see Stephanie survive in my life. Next, I hope that you all can use my posts as something to reflect upon to see Stephanie, someone you’ve lost, or God in your life. Third, I hope that you can post or message the blog (I still get all of the e-mails and notifications for her blog) with any stories about Stephanie either from her life or from how she continues to affect your life. Finally, my hope is that by getting the e-mail notification about a new blog (assuming you’ve subscribed for updates), it will help more people remember Stephanie for longer. The effect she had on each of us through daily interaction or through the blog doesn’t have to end with her death, but we must choose to live our lives in a way to reflect how she lived hers, and in doing so, keep her alive and continue her masterpiece.