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The T-Shirt I Want

The T-Shirt I Want


We’ve survived.

I feel like I need one of those t-shirts. You know, the ones that you get when you’ve made it through breast cancer? I feel like I need one that says, “I’ve survived the loss of my baby”.

I’ll bet those wouldn’t be really popular.

Today marks the end of “Dominic week”. Birthday, death day…one year. We have officially been through all of the “firsts” – first Christmas, first Easter, first Mother’s Day, first birthday without him…and it feels like a major accomplishment.

We made it.

We didn’t die, ourselves.

Sometimes, in this marathon of life, you’ve got to congratulate yourself on the small things.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

We haven’t been consumed. And it is only because of the Lord’s great love and compassions. Because of Him, we have made it to the year mark.

It feels odd, really. This past year, I have been largely defined by Dominic. Thinking about him, writing about him, seeking God’s direction in the aftermath of him – for certain, the Dominic theme has completely permeated all of my life. It has impacted my interactions with others, shifted my family priorities, and grounded my spiritual life. Even our finances, this past year, have been funneled toward paying off Dominic’s expenses.

But we are at a milestone, now.

I can’t help but wonder – what is the half-life of grief? I’m not sure, but I know we haven’t hit it yet.

The “Year After the Dominic Year”

I have to say, going into this next year feels like going into the wilderness. Funny how when you’ve been unwittingly thrust into the wilderness, it becomes your new reality, so that coming out of it feels like walking into…the wilderness.

I don’t know, exactly, how to navigate this upcoming year; how to let go of what has been and move forward into what will be.

But I do know that I want to move forward, this next year, in a new way.

I’m not sure what that “new way” should look like, or even what I want it to look like.

I do feel like somehow the “year” mark is the defining point after which I should, in some undefined way, “move on” from grief being the center of my life. In spite of the fact that the psychology and social work degrees in me admonish that grief takes as much time as it needs, and the faith in me reminds that God’s work is ongoing and isn’t constrained by timelines, there is a good part of me that resonates, “It is time for a new focus”.

I want to still grieve Dominic, as I need to, but I don’t want to be defined by grief. I don’t want to lose touch with the person Dominic has made me, but I don’t want the whole of my identity to be “Dominic’s Mom” in this upcoming year. I want a new purpose – one that is not Dominic centered, but is inspired by what the Lord has done in me through Dominic.

But I don’t have that purpose, yet.

Needing Direction

As always, when searching for direction, I have to go to scripture. I started getting a clue about my direction for this upcoming year, from the next verse in that passage from Lamentations:

24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is my portion. Like this past year, He is all I need for this upcoming year. But, I have to wait for Him.

Ack on the waiting.

I want to push forward with…something. I don’t know what, but whatever it is I’d like to grab it and go. Some new vision and purpose and plan…something tangible and definable that I can put as the theme over this upcoming “Year after the Dominic year”.

But, dang it, I don’t see that approach anywhere in scripture.

See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.
How can I let myself be defamed?
I will not yield my glory to another…

This is what the Lord says—
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.” Isaiah 48:10-11, 17

He teaches and directs. Not me. Never, to my everlasting chagrin, is it “Grasp your purpose and go forward for me”. It’s always “Wait on me. I teach you. I direct you. I show you the way you should go.”

I learned to live moment by moment with the Lord, when Dominic happened, because I couldn’t survive any other way. But already, one year later, it has begun to happen. The further away from tragedy I get, the more I begin living with Him in days and weeks, rather than moments.  The more I look to taking charge, myself, rather than waiting and relying. The more I focus on the future, rather than on the right now, with Him.

No wonder the Lord does some of His best work through suffering.

My Purpose

I think I found the key to this upcoming year in Psalm 37.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;…

The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand….

Hope in the Lord
and keep his way.

There is no “Here is your purpose for this next year”. There is “Trust in the Lord, delight in Him, commit your way to Him, be still before Him, wait for Him, hope in Him and keep His way”. In other words, “Don’t go off and find your purpose on your own. Your purpose is in knowing, walking with, and trusting Me in each moment”.

My purpose is not a thing to be attained; my purpose is a person to love.

This past year, the upcoming year, all of the years left of my life…my purpose is Him. Walking with Him in each moment, learning to loving Him more completely, finding ways to glorify Him more fully. Whether that purpose is, on this day, fulfilled through homeschooling my children, whether it is, on another day, realized through sharing what God has done through Dominic, whether it is, on a future day, found through…

Well, I don’t know yet. But that’s just it – I don’t have to know how it is fulfilled, if I know what…Who…my purpose is. If every moment He is my purpose, all I have to know is Him, right here, right now. Whatever He is saying. Whatever He is doing. Whatever He wants me to see or do – right here, right now.

If every moment I live Him, then every moment I live my purpose.


There is no doubt, I feel like I’ve earned the “I survived” t-shirt this year.

But, you know what?

I’m holding out for the next one.

Yep, that’s right. I’m gearing up for the t-shirt that I can only get if I do better than survive. The one that only comes from keeping Him as my purpose in every single moment. The one that will say not only that I survived, but…

“I thrived”.

And, when I get it, I’m going to put it on and go show Dominic.


One Response to “The T-Shirt I Want”

  1. Kristin says:


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