Yesterday, as we were walking around the beautiful Buddhist retreat centre, Delaney started picking up rocks from the pathway. We were on a set of steep stairs, and I knew that she would benefit from holding my hand. However, her hands were clasping the dusty stones — something that in my maturity and wisdom, I no longer treasure. So I gently suggested to Dell that she let her rocks go.

“There are always more rocks to pick up,” I said. “If you let those ones go, we can hold hands as we go down the stairs.”

And I heard the truth of my own words ripple past the physical and into the spiritual. For there are always more things in life to fill the voids left by the things that we lose, and in allowing new treasures in our lives, we aren’t betraying the ones we’ve given up.

That morning, I had broken my treasured drinking jar — a beautiful, handled Mason jar gifted to me by one of the most earthy and stylish women I have ever met. I mourned the loss of my special mug, and yet as I disposed of the glass, I knew that its sudden absence did not need to define my emotions.

There is a peace that can permeate my life, even with the loss of something important — like a son or a spouse. These losses do not need to define my emotions, as I can draw strength from the life that is happening around me, focus on the people who are at hand, and respond to them accordingly.

I did not seek to eat from this platter — tragic loss with a generous serving of grief, drizzled with judgement and suspicion. I had my eyes on another plate of food. But this was served to me, and I can take it with thankfulness and deliberately gain strength and compassion from the bitter flavours that could otherwise make me fade away.

Just as I encouraged Delaney to let her stones drop to the path, I can let my visions of the future disappear. Instead of holding onto my past, I can turn to my children and hold their hands as we navigate the steep hill together.

Delaney scoops up some stones, August 2012
Delaney uses both hands to scoop up the small stones that lie on the path.

Delaney holding stones, August 2012
Oh — she's keen to hold tightly to her stones, and yet she can't help but drop some through the cracks in her fingers.

Delaney lets the stones go, August 2012
In letting the stones drop from her hands, Dell sets us both free to continue our journey unencumbered.

“There are always more rocks to pick up,” I said. And I knew that I was talking to myself. Our children are a precious lesson to me to embrace the moment and create something beautiful out of the blessings I have been given — even if they do appear to be just plain rocks.