Loss is stealthy. With work – a lot of work – it is possible to settle into a place of comfort, But comfort is temporary. Because inevitably, loss resurfaces, catching you off guard with its persistent, haunting presence. At first, you expect that the pain will “heal” over time – that things can and will go back to the way they were. This is wishful thinking.
Loss is final. It is complex. It is enduring.
It is how you move forward with that loss that matters, how you let it inform you, and how you hold it in your heart. It can destroy you, or it can propel you forward.
Today is my brother Henry’s birthday. He has been gone for 20 years now. There hasn’t been a single conscious moment of my life in which I didn’t carry the weight of the loss of my big brother. For many years, I didn’t know how to hold it properly. I tried to run away from it and ignore it, as I didn’t want my life to be defined by death. It took me years and years of therapy and lived experience to accept that his death happened and will have always happened and that I can hold that while also living an authentic life. It is okay to feel the weight of loss, but you cannot let it consume you.
Living with loss can seem like an impossible balancing act until you do it.
For 20 years, Hope for Henry has existed as a testimony to living, loving, and thriving after loss. Everything we do is informed by someone who is no longer with us, and it is in his honor that we work so hard to provide kids like Henry with the finest clinical interventions possible. It isn’t a cliche that Henry’s spirit lives on. It is an observable phenomenon born out of 20 years of pain, hard work, innovation, emotion, and hope.
Henry’s fight lit a spark that has only grown since he left us. One little boy’s determination to live well and laugh hard is now a national movement to reinvent pediatric care. Henry lives in every single person who contributes to or benefits from Hope for Henry. He is in every child life specialist, pharmacist, doctor, and nurse when they help a patient face and overcome their fears. He is in the smile of each of the 120,000 children Hope for Henry has served. He is the light that drives each of us to work together to make things better for others.
Henry is gone, but his absence is no longer a source of sadness or despair. We hold his loss in a place of love and inspiration. I hope you can join me by holding him in your hearts as well and donating to Hope for Henry today. Happy National Hope for Henry Day!