Last fall our family made a trip to Door County, Wisconsin. People across IL and WI flock there during fall. Door County is known for vibrant, abundant fall colors. As we got closer I felt like I was in the quintessential fall photo. Breathtaking, beautiful, beholding the Creator’s masterpiece.
The last time we vacationed in Door County was with Ethan and Blake. It has been a long time. This was our first trip without Ethan. Mixed emotions swirled as we approached. We spent many, many summer days in Door County with Ethan. Erik’s family kept their sailboat there for years so Ethan grew up making the trek to Door County. His favorite activity was probably riding in the Zodiac with Erik as they jumped waves. Ethan would scream with delight. It was pure heaven watching him have so much fun.
As we arrived in Fish Creek, memories came flooding back. We drove around looking for our favorite spots. Some were there, some were gone or had changed names. We drove by the lot we once owned. Erik and I purchased it after we were married and had hopes of building our own summer place someday. In the throws of medical bills and traveling for Ethan’s care, we sold it. This day, I stared at “our” lot and on it a beautiful home, one we’d hoped to build ourselves. I felt the sting of hopes deferred. I felt the pain of Ethan’s absence. I felt the “life just isn’t fair” rant bubbling up in me.
I was not sure what to do with all these mixed feelings. I was sure though, that while my life looked very different than the last time I had been there, I also was a very different person.
more focused than I had been those years before.
I also knew that sitting with my feelings was okay. That I did not need to change them or push them aside. I let them come in and reside. I felt them all. We had a beautiful weekend with our boys. We played and rested and took a break from the constant to do list at home.
As we drove home on Sunday I could not help but notice the gorgeous amber colors as the sun shone warmth on my face. I felt awestruck by the beauty of the trees. I felt privileged to enjoy them. I could not help but notice the evergreen trees as they contrasted against the jewel tones of the changing trees. Their deep green stood in contrast to the autumnal colors. I had never noticed just how many evergreens there were in Door County, for the focus had always been on the magnificent fall colors.
And the thought arose, there is a constant amidst the change. There is a still, true flow amidst the changes of life. This consistency, as portrayed by the evergreens, was most apparent in the season of change. As the trees’ leaves colors were piquing only to soon die and fall to the ground, there stood the evergreens. Unchanging in the change. Unphased by what is to come. Standing tall, strong, and constant.
As I have wrestled with God, and my faith, I have asked - “where are you in my life’s change, where are you in the unrelenting challenges?”. The answer that bubbles up again and again in my heart is, “I am here. I am present. I am unchanged. I am constant. I am with you”. This answer has historically not been the one I desired. Rather, I wanted the “I will change this, I can change that, I will get things back to where you want them”. These are the answers I wanted...don’t we all?
Last weekend was our annual Ethan Lindberg Foundation Boston Event. It was a tremendous weekend of amazing generosity on so many fronts. There are many times during the year I wonder if I’m making any progress. Fundraising and pushing an organization forward is not easy. There are plenty of days of self doubt. Then I get to this event, and it melts away (at least for a night) as I see so many people inspired and passionate about what we do. It is humbling to watch it unfold.
In the mix of the party, sat families with sick kids, hoping against hope for their healing. There were moms and dads mourning illness and death. There were marriages on the edge, individual women and men hanging on for dear life. There sat doctors loving, striving and giving each day, often only to come up short. The joy of a party, the strength of community and crushing illness all sat together.
In my personal life, there is missing Ethan which is always intensified when we do our events. I am so aware that if he lived, if he was sitting at the dinner table each night, none of this would exist. There is Bodey growing up, making strides yet still not walking or talking, getting heavier and now in school alongside children doing all the things typical four year olds do. Such are the juxtapositions of my life.
And the questions come again:
“Are you actually there?
“Do you see what’s going on here?”
“How can this be allowed to happen?”
In my heart, I have gone from a place of needing complete knowledge, to a place that is willing to accept the mystery. But each tragedy, each heartache, each time something happens that our hearts cannot grasp, it is okay and it is important to re-ask,
“Are You there? God
”Do you exist?
”What is this all about?”
Each time is an invitation to dive deeper, search harder, ask the questions, feel the hurt and feel the Presence.
For me, I just keep coming back to Love. To a Love that is constant in the change, that is present in the pain, that I do not always understand, but that I choose over nothing at all.
As accept I am not in charge and my prayers are not passports to my plans, I appreciate the strong, constant Evergreen.
This Evergreen Love is ever present and stands with us as the seasons of life that ebb and flow, sometimes fading into the colors of our lives, sometimes standing in contrast. Especially in the contrast. Present, strong and right beside us as we surrender (and re-surrender) to life.
Sunday Love to each of you.
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P.P.S. What are some topics you’d like to read about? What is your heart thirsting for these days? I want to hear from you. ❤️