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How I Learned the True Meaning of Strength After My Son’s Death

“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” ~Oprah Winfrey

I tried to stay strong after my fifteen-year-old son Brendan died in an accident. It shattered my world. The shock of it numbed me but when that wore off, I knew I needed to be there for my husband and two other children. Zack and Lizzie were only ten and thirteen and needed my strength. So, I built a wall around my heart and pushed through my day. I went back to work, teaching piano students in my studio.

But at night my throat burned from unshed tears. My neck muscles ached from holding myself rigid. I had half-moon bruises across my palms; I didn’t even realize I spent the day with my hands clenched in fists, my nails digging into my flesh.

Still, I stayed strong. Until Matthew ran into my piano studio and I discovered the real meaning of strength.

Each week he burst into the room, eager to play me his new song. He was a six-year-old boy with freckles bouncing across his cheeks. He threw his bag onto the table, uncaring that books and pencils slid out. He wiggled onto the bench and grinned at me before crashing his hands into the keys.

He played me his own story about aliens and a spaceship that hopped from planet to planet. He threw his whole body into his song, attacking the keys until he built a wall of sound that screamed throughout the room.

I smiled. “I love your story.” I gave him a sticker that he proudly placed on his shirt. But then I reached for my lion.

Leo the Lion was a stuffed animal that sat on the shelf above my piano. He was so soft that students couldn’t resist reaching up and stroking his velvety fur. His arms and legs—filled with tiny beans—drooped over the shelf.

Sometimes, he

liking feelings Matthews

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