There is so much sadness in this journey. It’s not always at the forefront, simply because you have to keep going and behave normally throughout the day, but it’s there, right under the surface and when that surface gets scratched, it comes quickly to the top.

I went to a wake last night (something I try to avoid; and funerals feel out of the question for me these days). This was no ordinary wake. It was for a child born almost four months too soon who lived a mere eight weeks, every minute of those weeks spent in a NICU.

Let me just say that there should be no industry in this world that makes coffins so small.

It was crushing, heartbreaking, devastating. And yet there was a strong connection between me and the parents, people I honestly don’t know very well. But the mom had told me several times throughout her son’s short life that reading my story, Austin’s story, gave her hope and strength in her darkest moments. I was drawn there, like I couldn’t not drive an hour through the snow to be there and hug her and cry with her. I felt like I could relate, even though I absolutley can’t relate. I feel similar and yet a thousand times removed. What each of us has been through, what each of our children has been through, is so drastically different and yet the suffering and the fear is shared, the hope and the heartbreak we feel each day is the same.

I feel that way about military mothers (and fathers) too, not a group of people I had ever related to in the past. But there is a silent thread binding together the parents of children in grave danger, tying us to one another in our moments of triumph and in our moments of loss. Because even when we think we have nothing left, we find a tiny bit of strength to share with someone else. I’ve noticed this on the oncology floor time and again: we are all pulling for someone else; wishing only the best for that other parent and that other child.

I was told many times last night, by the parents themselves, by the parents of the parents, that they were praying for Austin. They were wishing and hoping the best for my child at the very moment when they lost theirs.

The capacity of the human heart to love and to give sometimes takes my breath away.

For Collin . . .