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September 18, 2019

Peach Fuzz & Beauty Marks: things that help us Survive our Grief.

Some call it making lemonade out of lemons—or seeking the silver lining.

Whatever it is, one thing is for certain, life’s beauty and grace are held in how we choose to look at and accept things.

For example, many women like me and my three older sisters grew up thinking the freckles on our arms and legs were “beauty marks,” and that downy, soft hair on each of our beautiful faces was referred to as “peach fuzz.”

These were endearing phrases, evoking the comfort of being wrapped in a treasured and maybe even frayed, soft quilt, once used to soften a hard floor for crawling and sleeping babies, and later for bathing beauties at the beach, holding lots of memories.

If we look for it, that same comfort can surround us in other ways, throughout our lives. Like in the longtime, intimate phrases we share with our families, and in the meaningful relationships that help us heal in hard times.

My husband started feeling what he called “blah” just a few months into our marriage.

He was soon diagnosed with stage 4 cholangiocarcinoma—or bile duct cancer, a rare and devastating cancer. He never stopped praying for a miracle, for himself and everyone else who was suffering, and endured 14 months of chemotherapy, a pulmonary embolism, and lots of other complications, before dying three days before our second wedding anniversary.

The experience was devastating, and cancer is cruel. I thought my heart could never hurt so much. I’d lost a mother and a sister to stage 4 cancers, but nothing was like this, losing a spouse.

How was I to survive?

This grief is so painful.

And then came those good friends—not a lot, but enough. Those who knew the 18-year-old, or 30, 40, or 50-year-old versions of me. And family, and more friends. And their friends who became new friends. Like that blanket.

Then, my friends helped me learn to survive—how to laugh again, how to walk through the rawness of the tsunami moments of widowhood, and how to find grace.

I found joy, even, in hosting a gathering of friends. I am grateful for these good people and friends, and I hope I can be a source of strength or laughter for them also.

I have my beauty marks and peach fuzz back again. And seeking the beauty and grace in moments has also helped me survive. Each of us, with a little luck, can choose to look at and accept things that keep grace close to our hearts, even when it hurts just to imagine that acceptance.

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