The other day, I overheard Leanne self talk:
"Mom passed away. She's in a better place. God needed her. I'm in a better place, too. Sister needed me."
Such a simple justification for the profound loss that she faced, and yet spoken with such peace. It also underscored the importance of her self image as that of a contributor upon whom this family relies. God needed mom so she had to answer that call. I needed Leanne, and she has dutifully and proudly come to help me.
While my mom was alive, Leanne's primary role was that of a daughter. Sure, she was a friend, a neighbor, a sister, and an aunt; but those were secondary roles. Upon my mom's passing, she recalibrated her identity; her primary role is now sister/aunt.
The tranquility of this transition is what continues to astound me. It's as though she looks at the situation and asks herself, 'what is my purpose?' Then she rises to the occasion and proceeds to fulfill her role to the very best of her ability.
Aided by her unwavering faith, Leanne has a gift of serenity. Yesterday is gone. It's not forgotten, but it's not dwelled upon. Tomorrow will come, but no energy is spent worrying about what trials it may bring. Today, in this moment, Leanne is focused on being as purposeful as she can. Her personal fulfillment is found in offering love and support to those around her.
Watching her navigate life and loss with such poise and faith has both inspired and humbled me. And sometimes that alone, is a grief trigger.
The other night, I was in her room and she showed me the display Valentines cards she had offered to our mom and I crumbled. It took me days to excavate the strength to write this post. But I've always said that Leanne has been my greatest teacher and this is a perfect example of that:
It called to mind "The Serenity Prayer." Most of us know the first verse:
Grant me the serenity;
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage, to change the things I can;
And the wisdom, to know the difference.
But the prayer continues...and this is the part that really resonates with me when I think of how Leanne has handled our mom's passing:
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably
happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.
During the past eight years, a common message has repeatedly surfaced on this blog: a person's value is not determined by his or her IQ score.
The Story Travis Didn't Want Me to Share
Living with Down Syndrome
Experiencing death and bereavement with Leanne has further reinforced this message for me. She has so much to teach and I have so much to learn. And I am forever grateful for the experience of having her in my life.