Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Orange: Finding Inspiration in One Mom's Tragedy

On the wall of my son's play room is a poster depicting a sunset. It's a wheat field and the gold of the wheat looks gorgeous against the warm orange of the sky. On the bottom of the poster are the words "A sunset is a sunrise on the other side of the world." When I saw that poster, I couldn't help but think it was beautiful sentiment, but now the poster has new meaning.

Like many of you, I have spent the last two months mourning the loss of a brave little boy I've never met. For those of you who don't know the story, Mel Bissing is a blogger who chronicles the adventures of her life with one little boy and his new triplet brothers. Two months ago, however, disaster struck and one of her then six month old triplets, Owen, died very unexpectedly when his heart stopped after going to sleep one night. You can read the heart wrenching account of what happened here and what they "think" caused it here. Throughout it all, Mel has been the definition of grace and honesty in a situation that no one should ever have to endure. She has passionately clung to her faith and her family and has inspired the thousands who were touched by her family's story. She used the loss of her son to save the lives of two other children by turning tiny Owen into an organ donor and has tirelessly worked to find a fitting memorial for her son.

So, what does this have to do with orange or my poster? Mel has shared that orange is Owen's signature color and wears it in honor of him nearly every day. Her devotion has imbued the color with new meaning for all those who read her words. It is the color of her web page now and the color of the t-shirts she is selling to fund her memorial for him. For many of us, it has become the color of hope in the midst of incomprehensible sadness and loss. It is the color of love rising phoenix like out of despair. It is the color of life that goes on (sometimes painfully, for brief moments, sometimes joyfully) for those times when all around us, we feel loss. It is the color of both the sunset and the sunrise on the other side of the world.

Two weeks ago, Mel shared her dream of creating a group of "Owenge Warriors." Her memorial for Owen would be a charitible trust foundation that would fund all kinds of "good works" from painting community parks to making donations in memorial of those who deserve a memorial. I share this with you because I know that everyone reading this blog is likely a parent (or someone who is likely to become a parent) and we all can imagine the pain she must be in and the hole the loss of a child must make. By sharing her story (and much of her emotional struggle), Mel has made Owen "our" lost baby. Let's help her build her memorial in any way we can . . . even if it's by simply reading her blog and sharing how we are inspired by it!

Maybe it's because my own son is an Owen B who has had his own share of health issues (head surgery at ten months and food allergies), or maybe it's just her beautifully brutal honesty about what it's like to survive the un-survivable, but Mel's story has touched me and I want to do everything I can to help her build something out of this momentous loss. I had been wondering how to share this with you, but it wasn't until I read this that I knew how. I have bought a t-shirt and a bracelet from her, but I'd never let her know how much her story has touched me. Every time I see my son, I think of her son and the toddler that he would be one day under different circumstances. Every time I see orange I am reminded of her struggle to make something awe-inpiring out of something out of something awful. Her words, her devotion to telling Owen's story and her determination to make something out of her tragedy has made me want to do the same.

I know that it is easy (and even understandable) to turn away from her story and to focus on its sadness and all the pain she must be in (the sunset), but let yourself focus on the good that is coming from it. Focus on the way her community has pulled together and become a part of that community through the internet. Keep Owen's memory alive for all of our children. Keep your eye on the sunrise.

Thanks for reading and please share this!


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