Where the river meets the rock

“Promise me…you’ll always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” – Christopher Robin to Pooh


Exactly one hour ago I crossed into another year of life. It is 1am; it is April 9th; I am 39.

In recent years I have come to love my birthday. As the epitome of Webster’s definition of an introvert, I savor a day to myself, a day interrupted by no one and nothing other than all that I love to do, all by myself.

Yet, this year as I find myself stumbling into the last year of my 30s, I feel a loneliness that is foreign. My husband is traveling, my family is far away, and I am no good for any friends company.

I miss my daughter and the black hole of my love for her makes everything else fade into gray.

These last few months have been hard. Many downs, and some hopeful ups, yet one reality I have had to come to accept is that I will never be the same, and I will never be whole again. I suppose no one who loses a child ever can be.

When I lost two years of my life, hundreds of hours of work, and any hope of finishing my PhD after eight years of blood, sweat and tears, I thought nothing could be worse. Now however I see that blow was simply a preparation for a loss so great no words can meet its weight.

These dark and murky waters are not however my proprietary territory. Life is hard, and perhaps that is what makes it worthwhile.

We struggle, sometimes we struggle more, and yet we keep going with hope that tomorrow the day will be brighter, the hurt will be softer, and our dreams will be closer. We keep trying.

I don’t know why I lost a grandmother, a cat, and a daughter in the span of seven months. Yet what I do know is that 38 was the worst year of my life, and I also know that it was the best.

My daughter needed me, and I needed her, and where the river met the rock we collided. And just like all things in the river of life, the current pulled us onward, and in so doing pulled us apart. However, when the river met the rock I needed all of the hurt that made me hard to keep me strong enough to hold her, and strong enough to let her go.

We don’t get to choose what toughens us in life, nor the blessings that break us open. What we do however get to choose is if we are brave enough to try again. So as I slide, stumble, and fall into 39, my one birthday wish is to become brave again, just one more time.


  1. Oh Shannon I just wish I could give you a big hug. Happy Birthday. Sending you lots of love and wishes that 39 is better.

    1. Thank you for the love and wishes Heather, they really did help on a day that was just, well, blah….

  2. My thoughts are identical to Heather above. You are so strong and brave and amazing. May this year be so different than the last! Hugs.

    1. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Elizabeth. My apologies for such a slow response, however your words warmed my heart on a tough day.

  3. Josie Francis · · Reply

    Amen to all the comments!! Lots and lots of Hugs!!!

    1. Thank you Josie, and thank you for the beautiful gift of your daughter, who brought sunshine into my rainy day.

  4. Thank you for sharing your stories and your feelings. They are a great help to me and many others. May life treat you better in the coming year.

    1. Thank you Ana, thank you. Your kind words helped to soften a hard-edged day.

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