When starting this podcast almost 4 years ago now, I had a goal. I wanted to create a resource for bereaved parents, a platform for parents to tell stories of their children and their personal grief journeys. I wanted it to feel safe and encouraging, offering a little bit of hope as they traversed through the dark, lonely road of grief.
I realized while recording this special 200th episode that we have together created so much more than a resource. We have created a community. As Gwen read each child's name out loud this week, images flew through my mind - a picture of a child or family, a favorite color, a sport or sports team. Some of these images brought tears to my eyes while others a bit of a smile, but they all brought a sense of community.
During recording, I talk quite a long time about how I think of Caleb and Chrisy (Ep. 19: Caleb's Mom) whenever I see the color orange. As I sat down that afternoon to edit the episode outside on my deck, an unusual bright orange butterfly landed beside me and sat for a bit. It was gone before I had time to snap a picture, but I thought about Caleb immediately. Later, I went to therapy, and as I was leaving looked up at the calendar that hung by the exit - another orange butterfly - Caleb again.
That evening, I went to golf league and my partner was using bright orange golf balls. (Oh my word! Caleb again!) I reached into my bag and picked out 2 bright yellow Callaway Supersoft balls (my favorite brand) that Eric had recently found for me. I immediately thought of my friend Laura and her Luke (Ep. 102: Luke's Mom). If Caleb was to be represented on the golf course, then Luke was going to be as well. Luke loved yellow just as much as Caleb loved orange.
Then, things got even crazier. I am not a good golfer. The idea of me getting par is unusual, and a birdie is almost unthinkable, but on the night before Andy died, I did just that. I got a birdie in Ladies League. It had not happened since and I sort of thought it was a gift from God that would never happen again. On the third hole of the night, however, I hit a great tee shot. My second shot was even better - 140 yards right on the green rolling closer and closer to the hole until stopping a mere 15 inches from the hole. Could it be? Could I really hit another birdie on the day I recorded episode 200? As I tapped in the birdie putt with my yellow 'Luke' ball, I almost started to cry.
I shared with the women that I was golfing with the story of my last birdie and the fact that I had just recorded episode 200. We all teared up, feeling like it was a little gift from God and Andy. I then decided to share my orange stories from the day with the ladies. One of the women then said that she also loves the color orange. She had an orange wedding, showed me her orange phone and even just bought a cottage on Orange Ave. As we finished the round, she noticed an orange golf ball sitting near the cart path. She immediately picked it up to hand it to me. Before even looking, I knew it would be an orange Callaway Supersoft. It had to be - a gift to me from Caleb on my special day. As we sat down to dinner outside, our cloth napkins and centerpieces were - you guessed it - orange.
We ate dinner and then went to try some dessert. Apparently, there were amazing cupcakes that evening. Looking at the cupcake types, I thought I would cry again. Sitting on the table were three lemon cupcakes. It seems that Caleb finally gave Andy a 'turn' to give me a gift. You see, Andy's favorite type of cake is lemon. We always had lemon cake for his birthday. The last time we ate lemon cake together was that night almost 5 years ago when I had my birdie. We celebrated Valeriano's birthday with a lemon bundt cake that Andy helped me buy. Less than a week later, we would serve lemon cake at his funeral. And now, on the day I recorded episode 200, I got to eat the best lemon cupcake I have ever tasted.
There are some days when I wonder if I should keep doing the podcast or if I should give it up. Listener numbers that had been steadily increasing had become a bit more flat recently. Were people still interested or had the podcast run its course? Then I have days like this when I have my answer. It does not matter if I have thousands or dozens of downloads in a given week. The people who listen are meant to be there. They are meant to be a part of my community. These children impact my life and the lives of all who listen. Today, I got special little gifts from Caleb, Luke, and Andy. I like to think maybe they were all planning it together in heaven.
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