Death is the natural evolution of life. As we grow older, we expect to lose grandparents. We expect to say goodbye to great aunts, uncles and even our parents. They’re often lucky enough to have led full lives and we gather to celebrate the legacy they’ve left behind.
We reminisce about the adventurous spirit they had as a child, how quickly they learned to tie their shoes or the fact that they didn’t like vegetables. We joke about the braces they wore in junior high, how they loved cheerleading, hitting a baseball or competing in the science fair. We laugh about how they barely passed a driver’s test, their first boyfriend or girlfriend and how awkward that prom photo looked.
We acknowledge their commitment of graduating from college, serving our country or raising a family. How they worked tirelessly to support their own kids, no matter what the situation. We talk about the house they built and the years of loyalty given to a trade or profession, able to retire and enjoy a simpler lifestyle. We remember the kind of person they were…generous, loving or kind.
What you never expect, is to lose a child.
One year ago today, my niece was killed by a reckless driver. Our family will never get to celebrate all of these things, because she was taken from us too early. Liv was 1 Year, 1 Month and 1 Day old.
Last month, we celebrated what would’ve been her 2nd birthday. I can’t speak to the pain that Liv’s parents endure daily. It’s so very difficult to understand how and why this could’ve happened. What I do know, is that this little girl was extraordinary. She taught us all that life is special. Life is precious.
My wife Jen, Olivia’s aunt, wrote something this morning on her Facebook page that says what I’m having trouble saying now…
“The last year has been filled with so much unimaginable sadness. We are healing as a family. People say that every day gets easier, and as cliche as it is, it is also true. There will never be another absolutely perfect day in our family–there will always be a baby missing from our photos–there will always be pain behind our smiles. But with the help of a massive, amazing group of friends and family, we will begin to rebuild a new normal.
In honor of Olivia, please take a moment and do something nice for someone around you–honor a child’s wish, make someone’s day, be a hero. Don’t wait–you never know if you’ll get another opportunity to make someone happy.”
My sincerest thanks go to everyone throughout this last year who has supported our family, the foundation…and especially Liv’s parents, Brad & Brooke.
If you haven’t before, please take the time to click through (above) and read about the impact that one careless action has had on our family. I know it’s not easy, but if the message gets through to only one person, then it was worth it.
SLOW DOWN. LOOK AROUND. Pay attention to the little things.
Life can be short…but it doesn’t have to be.