Time works to smooth the roughest edges on the blades that cut us. Remember the scene in the movie “Jaws” when, in a session of ultimate male bonding and showmanship, the three shark hunters shared with each other their scars and the stories that led to those marks of honor? How they were able to brag about their engagements with danger, battle, and pain without a trace of self-restraint; it was enough to make you want to go out and get some scars of your own.
Talking about long-ago struggles is one thing, but opening fresh wounds to the inspection of others is another thing entirely. Scars may stand out as reminders of injurious encounters, but their very existence provides cover up. Open wounds, on the other hand, well, they can reveal some pretty raw, mind-mulching stuff.
It is for this reason that I am grateful to have the chance to bring you a story of one family’s recent battles. The wounds for them are fresh; time has not passed enough to lessen the initial pain; their insides are still turned out; no trauma-covering marks have appeared. In fact, the wounds are so sensitive that many times my scheduled talks with family members got postponed, messages took some time to be returned, and tears and silence often slowed our discussions. And yet, they have talked, and they have opened up for examination intimate, personal, and detailed facets of their experiences. They are brave and strong in the face of their palpable pain because they believe that they can help others who might be going through something similar – the loss of the centerpiece of their world.
As a result of my intimate talks with her husband, sisters, and mother, I’ve learned much about Lauren. During our talks they referred to Lauren by different labels: a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. But, the different people I spoke to painted a much richer picture for me by using a brush colored with a mostly consistent description: Lauren was a confident, communicative, passionate, loving and admirable leader in all things she undertook, both inside her busy family and out in the community. Lauren was grateful for the life she built, and was equally compelled to make a positive difference in the lives of those less fortunate. She endured severe loss and heartbreak, yet always moved forward, powered by her family and friends, and moved to put aside her own struggles in order that she may uplift others.
This particular story, though, is not so much about this amazing woman – and from all accounts, she was amazing in indeterminate ways – but rather, it is a story of a vibrant, close, active, involved, meaningful, giving family who have had to find the pathways that would allow them to move forward after she was taken away. There are many stories in this story; wait until you hear about the butterflies story.
In order to understand the magnitude of the loss, you must first understand the scale of the endowment. When faced with losing a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, how do you begin to heal? How can you recover from such a wound? Lauren’s family is helping us learn.