People's stories matter. I think that is why I read so incessantly. I read to know I am not alone and to feel inspired and to find nuggets of good buried within the onslaught of agonizing headlines.
I have always believed people's stories matter. But I learned about it in a different way after Andrew Wilfahrt was killed exactly two years ago today.
Despite being stunned and stricken with grief, his kind, loving, and articulate parents chose to use Andrew's story as a catalyst for a great movement that still has legs in the fight for marriage equality within the state of Minnesota.
What is interesting about this to me is that Andrew was who he was before he was killed. Those facts never changed, but in the telling of who he was other people began to look at who they were a bit differently.
I don't wish for anyone to lose a child, but I am gobsmacked every day by people who find ways to rise up in honor of their children, grief be damned, in order to create a world that is bearable for them to walk around in. This, of course, cannot ever be done because no world will ever be better without their child. But someone else's might be because of your words. It would be too easy to check out, to give up, to anesthetize and numb yourself to reality, but sometimes people make the choice to walk on wearing their loss like a new coat that doesn't quite fit. And God bless them for finding a way to keep loving and living so that we might glean just a little bit of wisdom that they so painfully learned.
Because of this, I will never give up on our stories. They are so rich and deep and filled with longing and loss and joy and wretched pain. In they end, our stories are all that we own and all that we have to offer-- a beautiful gift of our complicated, messy, fraught selves.
When we choose to share them, people feel less alone. They feel as if somehow their own load has been lightened.
And sometimes, our stories can change the world.
Thank you Andrew, Jeff, and Lori for reminding me of this.