Hope Holds A Place

I stood in the doorway as the clock ticked, knowing every minute that passed was taking him one step further from life. They talked about golf. As they stood over my son trying to keep his heart beating, they talked about golf. And the conversation of something so trivial and normal was ironic as they held my son’s life in their hands.

It was just like you see in the movies when it was over. They announced the hour of his death and wheeled their cart away. And a deafening silence fell over the room.

Loving him was all I knew. And the body that had once been so filled with strength and determination now lay empty on the table. A mere shell of a life once lived.

They expect you to leave.

They expect you to walk away and leave your child on a cold hospital table. In the hands of strangers.

And they expect you to pick up the remnants of your life and carry on.

I think in some way I was expecting that life outside the hospital doors would match how I felt inside. Desolate, empty. I expected that everyone would feel the impact of the tragedy that had just occurred. That others would have felt the sweet soul of my son slip beyond this world and into the next. But the shock of bright sunlight and the mundane hurry of people passing by told me otherwise. Life was going on.

My son was no longer in this world, but life would continue.

Your body pleads with your mind to make sense of death. It begs for answers where there are none.

Death defies logic. Death shows no mercy. It is unjustifiable, indiscriminate, unfair. It comes to destroy, demolish, and destruct. And it leaves you completely powerless, hopeless, broken.

And so you leave. Thrust out from the nightmare you just experienced into what you will come to learn as your “new normal”. You will be expected to play the role well. Sink into deep grief but pull it together enough to make decisions about flowers and music and pictures and words. Because somehow this final goodbye – if done perfectly – will give others the closure they need.

Closure. It is not a word you can put on the reality of death. Because closure suggests finality. And death is not the end.

For a long time, every day will be a living nightmare. Your bones will ache with the heavy weight of grief. You will go through the motions out of habit, not survival. You will cling to the past because every new day brings you one step further from those memories.

And the only certainty in an otherwise unknown future is that death has robbed you.


And listen close…

Death does not win.

There is no victory in death.

Because the tomb did not stay dark. And when love led the way there was great light.


There are moments when the sunlight hits down in a single stream of silver and I am reminded that my son was here. That the life we lived had been real. His memory is not a dream…rather a living constant that I hold close. The daily heartbeat in the rhythm of my life. I can hear his laughter on the warm stirring of a summer wind. He is there in the stillness and beauty of the places we once walked. Extraordinary memories that make your heart swell for the unexplained magic that still remains. Hope leaps and surges where deep grief once was.

This place where pain meets healing and tragedy is turned into blessing. Where sorrow becomes joy. And the dark despair of yesterday turns into the everlasting longing of tomorrow. A temporary place. A holding place.

This place will change you. You will begin to desire something that neither wealth nor success nor material gain will ever be able to fill. Your heart will yearn for something more that will never be satisfied on this earth.

A new day.

One day closer to you…

Shannon Shpak

Shannon Shpak is a writer who is rebuilding life after loss with her 5 children. She believes in hope, perseverance and being strong…all legacies her son left behind.

One comment on “Hope Holds A Place

  • Jason Huff
    November 18, 2021 | 5:47 pm

    There is an anger, a resentment, in the sentence “They expect you to leave” that is so powerful. It’s pain, but it’s a feeling of audacity that this is no big deal to someone, to anyone. My other favorite line comes later with “and I am reminded that my son was here.” Sorry for your loss, Shannon.

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