As you may know, I took some time away from writing to focus on two projects I’ve been leading. The first is bringing a Levitt concert venue, known as “Levitt at the Falls,” to downtown Sioux Falls. I was also intent on bringing an American Cancer Society Hope Lodge to town. A Hope Lodge is a place for out-of-town cancer patients to stay while receiving treatment. I had stayed at one in Minneapolis with my mom and the experience was filled with heartache, love and laughter.

“Levitt at the Falls” has been proceeding full steam ahead. The groundbreaking is scheduling for April 23rd, we’ve hired an Executive Director (to be announced in late summer) and our committees are getting things done. The entire community is helping in whatever ways it can to make this a success. Time and time again, I’m amazed at how people step forward with gifts that are much needed and exceedingly generous. Our first concert season will be Summer 2019. It’s thrilling to be part of this valuable addition to Sioux Falls.

While the Levitt effort has been flourishing, unfortunately, the Hope Lodge effort has ended. We knew it was an ambitious campaign and in order for it to be successful, all of the stars needed to align. During the first 3 years of our effort, the planets seemed to be falling into place, but sadly in the end, we weren’t able to put all of the necessary pieces together. It just wasn’t meant to be, at least not right now.

This was heart-breaking for me and the many volunteers and staff who worked to make this a reality. However, my dear hope is that our effort will somehow lead to something unexpected and good down the road. That’s how the Universe seems to work. Of course, it’s always easier to figure out how it all fits together with the benefit of hindsight. But I’m putting my faith and trust that there is a bigger picture at hand, one that I can’t see, but one that is for the best.

Now that my workload has decreased, I want to write again for the same reasons I started my blog. I used to tell my mom about my observations about life and now that she’s gone, I ache to share them. This is the best alternative I’ve found.

The Hummingbird and Me

Last week I was walking our dog, Holmes, early in the desert morning. As the Spring days get longer and heat up, the early mornings have become mild, colorful and glorious.

On my walks, I talk to my mom and pray. I look for signs from her, a hint that she is with me. On a recent walk, I stopped and noticed a bluish-purple, pointy-beaked hummingbird sitting silently on a bush. Hummingbirds are ubiquitous where we live in the winter, but they are rarely not moving. They are usually a flurry of activity.

The black-eyed bird cocked his head and looked at me. I stared back at him for some time. Finally, I asked him, “What are you trying to tell me?” And then I waited. After some time, he told me, “It’s alright that she’s gone.”

In my head and heart, it has not been alright that my mom is no longer here. In no way, shape or form is it okay. But according to the bird, as far as the Universe is concerned, it is alright. Everyone that has come before us has passed on. It’s okay that she has too.

Eventually, the hummingbird flew away and joined another hummingbird in what looked like a mating dance. I started walking again and wondered about what I had just experienced. Perhaps losing my mom wasn’t all about me and my loss, there’s a bigger picture at hand. I had a glimpse, a flicker perhaps, that I actually may be able to accept this one day. Not yet, but one day.

The losses of the Hope Lodge campaign and my mom are connected by definition: they’re both losses. And I realize that many, many endure much greater losses than these, ones that make mine look like child’s play.

But I know these losses can lead to growth. When I think of some of my most painful experiences in life, most end up fitting together and leading to developments that are better than I could have predicted. There’s a technical name for this: post-traumatic growth. If given a choice, I’d skip the pain and the subsequent growth, but I don’t get to choose, at least not the pain part of the equation. And because of both losses, I’m back to my blog, which makes me more curious about the world and puts a spring in my step.

Growing pains or not, I’ll keep walking, wondering and looking for signs that can teach me big lessons.

Thank you for being a part of this journey with me.