Yesterday marked the date that Alexis was born to us, 25 years ago on August 10, 1996. She lived only 13 months and 5 days, and 25 years later the memories are closer to my heart than my own breath.
In all of the time that has passed since her death, I have not found the courage to watch, from start to finish, all of the video footage we captured in her short life. The mid-nineties were not the days of smart phone pics, selfies and videos. We had to find pockets of time, where there was nothing else pressing to fire up the “camcorder” and start filming. As challenging as that could be, sitting down to watch them would be harder.
Surrounded by family, including Zach we watched the full set of footage that spanned 4-5 hours. There were not many surprises as I feel like her 13 months are etched in my memory never to be tainted. There were two dynamics that stood out though.
The first, was just how beautifully alive Alexis was. Even when she was sick. Just days and a few short weeks before she drew her final breath, her eyes were bright, her babbles were loud, she was curious, engaging and radiant. Her demise was rapid and until that point, we marveled at just how present, involved and focused she was at times. I will always be grateful to have these images, to remind me of the authenticity of those moments.
The second, and tenderly powerful observation we all made was the incredible sense of community that surrounded Alexis, and our family. Throughout the video clips, we were reminded of the many friends that continued to visit, cook, show up and walk the walk with us. Many of our dear friends, and also family members making appearances in the live footage are no longer alive themselves, providing even more meaning and value to these moments.
When discussing this last evening, one of the folks watching with us remarked “We are not doing anything without a community behind us” or something along those lines. How profound. Even though I’d always been grateful for, and held dear the immeasurable support, love and kindness extended to us during Alexis’ short life, and also in the 24 years since it ended, I’d never thought about the aggregate impact of our community as a whole.
This is the invitation I extend to all of us as we go through the world today, and every day: Look around. It might be tempting to focus only on our own goals, grief, triumphs and evolution. Not just when our Daughter dies, but when we progress in our work environments, spiritual practices, and family life. Nothing gets done without a community behind us.
Let’s make sure we don’t forget that we are each a contributor to something that eclipses individual action and achievement, an energy current that is a whole, the sum of countless parts that takes on a life of its own. What will we add? Will we increase that energy and spiral up, contributing more than we consume? Or will we drag the dynamic life force down, with our inability to see beyond our own existence and needs?
The simple awareness that we are all connected is sometimes enough to muster up the inspiration to keep going.