Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Signs of Life by Natalie Taylor

On March 12, 2011 my fourteen year old nephew, Brody, was killed in an accident. While I've dealt with death in the past, this hit me in a way I could have never imagined. Brody's mom is a dear friend of mine. Brody's dad is my husband's closest brother. They are more than family - they are our friends, our hearts. I've been at a complete loss for words for Brody, and I feel so devastated by that. I want nothing more than to honor him in a way he deserves, but I have been a failure. My heart is broken. My spirit is deflated.
I saw Natalie Taylor on an afternoon talk show one day and I was taken with her charm and demeanor. While in her early twenties, Natalie lost her husband tragically after only 18 months of marriage. She was 5 months pregnant. I immediately ordered her book, Signs of Life, for my sister-in-law.
Of course, I wanted to read the book before I gave it to Brody's mom. The last thing I would ever want to do is give her a gift that would hurt her even more. It took me a long time to read it. I would pick it up and put it down.
Finally I read it.
The author used her journal entries to write the memoir. I loved this. It was real. There were times when she was bitter and mean. Times when she simply could not allow herself pleasure or happiness. Times when she lashed out at her friends and family not even understanding why. It was honest.
Natalie teaches advanced English, so I enjoyed her references to classic literature and poetry. I, too, place myself into books as an escape or reference point to my life. I think of my favorite characters at various times as I travel, often blindly, through this world. I enjoyed Natalie's humor and honesty in dealing with her pain.
Each day, she pushed herself a little harder .... a little more. And each day .... each hour .... got a little bit better. Even when Natalie could not see it.
Everyone grieves differently. No two people feel alike. No one can imagine the depth of another person's pain. My heart aches each and every day for my family, my friends, for the loss of an amazing young life. But each day we get up and we try to be the people our lost loved ones knew us to be ... the people they were proud of.
Each time I see my sister-in-law's beautiful smile, my brother-in-law's kind eyes ... every time I feel a little snap in the air or a white feather floating softly by me ... I, too, see signs of life.

Brody and his cousin, Drew, chatting before a race. My favorite picture!