Inspiration can be found in unexpected places. I found mine in my sister.

I don’t normally write anything personal in this blog. I try to keep it professional with advice and perhaps some guidance from one person in the industry to the next. I suppose, actually, it can apply to anyone. Today, I’m going a little personal. Maybe it will mean something to someone.

My sister buried her baby, Nathaniel, yesterday. Nathaniel was born a few weeks ago, but it has taken this long for medical purposes to finally bury him. That’s fine. The research was needed to discover the true reasons behind his death. The technical reason is not pertinent to this post. I’ll just say that Nathaniel, which means “God’s gift” was truly a gift to medical research and was born in order to give life to others. This, I know gives my sister much comfort.

I was there the day he was born and died. I drove my mother to Ohio so she could be there. We spent several days there trying to be helpful and taking some stress off my sister and her family. It’s my job in our family to be the rock, I suppose. And, some may say, the comedic relief. I’m the distraction and diversion. I never cried. Got teary-eyed once. But, never cried while others around me fell apart. My sister, she was a rock. I think us military daughters are raised that way. She amazed me. I was in awe of her through this entire ordeal–through the pregnancy, knowing he wasn’t going to live, to the birth and death. She had her moments, of course. But, wow. What a source of strength.

I never cried. I found that strange. I’m a crier. I cry over Maxwell House commercials at Christmas. But, this. Not a tear. Honestly, I’ve been very disappointed in myself. What was wrong with me? Have I become so hard, so protected, built up so much armor that I can’t cry over something so deeply personal and tragic?

Nathaniel’s ashes were buried under a beautiful, huge tree that was planted as a memorial at my sister’s church for him. I saw the pictures today. There was no grand service. Just the ministers, her husband, her son Jack, and a friend or two. They were sweet pictures. I was looking through them like you would look through vacation pictures, just breezing through them. Until I got to the ashes. Something hit me very deep. I finally cried. Months of held back tears flowed. As I sat and stared at the picture of my sister sprinkling the ashes into the large hole where the tree was to go, I couldn’t help but notice that Sarah McLachlan’s “Arms of an Angel” was playing on the radio in the background. I don’t know if I could have scripted that. “You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie. In the arms of an angel, may you find some comfort here. You’re in the arms of an angel, may you find some comfort here.”

Nathaniel, no doubt is in a better place. I believe he has wrapped my sister in his tiny arms and she has an angel watching over her. Maybe that’s where she draws her strength from. I know she has her faith, but now she has Nathaniel as well.

My sister has been through something horrible–something many would find unbearable. Yet, she remains faithful, hopeful, optimistic and realistic. She named him Nathaniel for a reason. Being a medical practitioner herself, she knew his genetic disease would be a gift to medical research. She’s had that attitude from day one. I don’t know how well I would do under those circumstances. I don’t know if I could take such a positive outlook so early on. I would like to think that I could face adversity with the same power, faith and strength that she has. We are, after all, family.

I have a sister. A younger, bratty sister who used to drive me crazy. I have a sister who buried her baby yesterday. Today, I am proud to say I have sister who is truly an inspiration to me and will always be a reminder to me to never lose my faith or my sight on the big picture and what is truly most important in life.

When stress is building, demands are extreme, money is tight and things look impossible and nothing seems to be going the way I planned, I will remember Nathaniel and what he gave to me. He gave me a renewed faith. But more importantly, he gave me a sister and a brother-in-law and an awesome nephew named Jack, whom until then, I hadn’t spent any time with.

Inspiration. Faith. Hope. Spiritual peace. Internal resolve. It can be found anywhere, if you just allow yourself to slow down long enough to look. Take a moment to lower the walls and soften your heart. Close your eyes. Breathe. Listen silently. You will hear it. You will find it. You will find it in the most unexpected places.

To my sister, my brother-in-law, my nephew and my little nephew watching over us all, I love you. Thank you for my new found inspiration. Thank you for finally allowing me to cry.