Thank You, Village.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I think it also takes village to raise a heart.

These past two months have been incredibly intense. Watching a loved one get diagnosed with a terminal illness and watching that illness take her in the course of two months is no walk in the park. One of the lowest times of my life, by all measures.

But as sad and difficult as it’s been, I don’t feel low. On the contrary, I feel raised. Some of that might be due to my faith and belief that death is truly not the end. But I think most of that feeling of being lifted is due to the amazing village of family, friends, and even virtual strangers, who have showered me personally—and our family in general—with oceans of love and support.

It’s the community of faith—both Bahá’ís and friends of other religious persuasions—who prayed fervently for Judy and the rest of us through this entire process. And it’s the non-religious friends and family whose faith resides in love and humanity, who offered kindness and positive energy with equal sincerity.

It’s the friends I haven’t seen in years sending me sweet messages of condolence and support to pass on to my husband, checking in occasionally to tell me they were thinking about us and praying for us. It’s my dear old friend halfway across the country who offered to drop everything and hop on a plane if I needed her to be here.

It’s my fellow homeschooling mom who offered to take my kids whenever I needed a break, and my former pastor friend whose invaluable wisdom helped us navigate some unfamiliar emotional and logistical waters.

It’s the immediate family who dropped everything to do whatever needed to be done, without complaint or question. And it’s the extended family we bonded with on a whole new level through our shared grief.

It’s the old family friends who remember Judy with joy and heartbreak, whose fond memories add to the lovely tapestry she wove during her time here on Earth.

It’s the friends and strangers with their own cancer stories reaching out to say, “I’ve been there.”

Whatever the avenue—texts, e-mails, Facebook messages, phone calls, cards in the mail—it’s the words of compassion and thoughtfulness and pain and sadness that connect our hearts to one another.

I truly felt it all, and I hope the rest of the family did to. From where I’m sitting, I can see how all of those words and acts of compassion and kindness—those beautiful reminders that we all belong to each other—raised us up and carried us through this whole surreal ordeal.

So thank you, village. From the bottom of my raised-up heart.

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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

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