I know we’re not supposed to “compare” grief and rank them. I know that.
Yet, as I consider the depth of my broken heart, my mind sometimes does exactly that before I can stop it. And when I believe someone else’s loss could possibly be even greater than my own, I wonder how can they bear it?
In my own life, there is someone whose grief, I believe – in many ways – could outrank mine.
It’s the beautiful, strong, and vibrant love of Ian’s life and fiancé, Lei.
Yes, I am Ian’s momma and it’s easy for me to believe that no one (besides God) could love him more than I do. But, the truth is, if there was such a thing as a loss-meter, I think Lei’s grief would easily measure up to mine (if not surpass it) because her loss comes at such a young age.
Yet, in the months that have passed, I’ve watched Lei handle her grief with strength, grace and wisdom beyond her years.
I’ve said on many occasions that Ian was a blessing to many in his life. But I’d like you to know that he was also a very blessed man, and Lei was a monumental blessing in Ian’s life.
When they first met, Ian was taking a full load of university classes, working part-time, interning with several companies and wildly in love with his passions of surfing and downhill skateboarding. When they began dating, Ian was worried that he wouldn’t have the time needed to be a quality boyfriend. But fate can’t be denied, and it wasn’t long that Ian was wildly in love with Lei.
These two were nothing short of pure soul mates. Their compatibility was off the charts. Life was an adventure! They hiked beautiful island trails, they surfed at breaks all around the island, they caught discount movies nearly every Tuesday and they dirt-biked in Kahuku as often as they could. They especially loved to explore the neighbor islands and dreamed of one day moving to Maui or the Big Island.
About a year into their relationship, there was talk about a future together. Lei’s family welcomed Ian with open arms, just as we did with Lei. They loved to spend time with family and friends. Life was good and life was full.
They had been together for nearly two years when Ian got sick.
So much changed in that moment…but not Lei’s love for Ian.
When Ian was diagnosed with a rare cancer that required one of the toughest chemo and radiation treatment plans, Lei was there.
When Ian suffered agonizing chemo-induced nausea, Lei was there.
When Ian was hospitalized because radiation had torn up the lining of his mouth and throat, Lei was there.
When we studied the Bible as a family, Lei was there.
When Ian felt better and wanted to get out and enjoy life, Lei was there.
When we got the awesome news from his first evaluations, Lei was there.
When Ian’s legs suddenly went weak, Lei was there.
When we got the horrible news that the cancer had spread, Lei left the hospital for the night and retreated into the strong and loving arms of her family. Then, in the morning, Lei was there.
When Ian fought back against the terminal diagnosis and took up naturopathic treatment, Lei was there.
When Ian practiced walking in the backyard, Lei was there.
When we flew to the Big Island to seek concentrated naturopathic care in what we all knew was our Hail-Mary attempt to save Ian’s life, Lei was there.
When the most difficult, heart wrenching final days were upon us, Lei was there.
I rode in the ambulance with Ian on his final trip home. He was going in and out of consciousness. At one point, Ian opened his eyes momentarily and then mouthed to me, “Where’s Lei?” I assured him that when we got home, Lei would be there.
And she was…
How can you thank someone for adding such a rich layer of love to your son’s life during the most trying journey a person can walk? I don’t think words are sufficient. So, instead, as Lei did for Ian, we will let our actions speak for themselves. And our family will forever be there, for Lei.