Tuesday, November 5, 2013

lost in translation.

My mom has a stone outside of her house with a quote saying something like, "Friends are the family we choose for ourselves."  It's true.  As we move through our lives, we surround ourselves with people who mirror to us our best selves.  They know us, our best qualities and our flaws, and they love us, the whole of us. One by one we meet these people, and one by one we create our family.

After my husband and I had been married a year, we traveled to Costa Rica for our honeymoon.  We backpacked for five weeks around the entire country visiting national parks, coastal towns, and urban centers.  We ended our trip spending two weeks with a host family volunteering to patrol beaches at night and tag nesting sea turtles.  Our host family assignment was random, but as fate would have it, we would truly be placed in the home of family.  We were placed in the home of Etelgive, and over the next two weeks our families would become intertwined.   That was over seven years ago.  In the years since, we have returned twice bringing our babies to meet their abuela.  My relationship to Etelgive is like no other in my life. She is like a mother, a sister, and a dear, dear friend.  She loves me, my husband and our children loudly, unconditionally and without apology.

There is one catch to my friendship with Etelgive: we do not speak the same language.  While I can understand quite a bit of Spanish, my ability to string together a sentence rivals that of a three year old.  Over the years, through our friendship, I have learned that there is a language deeper than words. There is a language of the heart that can connect us in our humanness beyond the language of words.

My husband, who speaks Spanish fluently, has always been amazed at our ability to spend time together, to understand one another, so deeply, without words.

Today my phone rang, and I would have given anything for some words.  It was Etelgive, and she was telling me something over and over again.  I couldn't understand her words, but in the language of our hearts, I could tell that hers was broken, I just couldn't understand why.  I ended up telling her that we would call her when Brian got home from work. He would understand the words. He would bridge the gap.

Etelgive lost her son.  Her heart is broken.  I listened to her words which I didn't understand, but I could hear clearly the heartbreak and deep sadness in her voice.  As mothers, we all speak a language of the heart. We all know what it means to have the indescribable love for our children, the kind of love that makes our hearts burst at the seams when we see their sweet sleeping faces or when they wrap their arms around us unexpectedly and tell us they love us.  We also know in a very distant way the incredible heartbreak it would be to lose a child.  We can only dip into that sorrow out of fear the depths would swallow us whole.

I sat on the phone and listened.  I listened to my friend, my family, and the distance between us felt huge. You often hear people say, "I don't know what to say," at a time of loss.  I knew what I wanted to say, but I did not have the words, and so I strung together my three year old sentences.  I told her I was sorry and that I loved her and I trusted that beyond my words, her heart would hear my own.

Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers. 


  1. i am so incredibly sorry for this loss. i will keep her in my heart and prayers.

  2. What a sad thing. I wish you all comfort. I'm sorry to hear you are hurting for a friend.. my.thoughts are with you. Much love, Ana

  3. Stacey, I am so sorry for her loss. She will be in my prays. I am sorry for you as well. Not only is this heartbreaking for you but I am sure it is frustrating as well. I will never forget the comfort you gave me in my time of need and I am sure she feels the same way. Let me know if you need anything at all. Katie

  4. Stacey that is an amazing and tremendously sad story and situation. you are so right that we can not go to that place of losing a child, and at the same time my heart swells with the friendship that you have with Etelgive. there is nothing more amazing than a friendship that spans an ocean and how amazing that yours spans languages. I feel honored to have shared in your story. peace and prayers.

  5. Thanks for sharing this Stacey although I know it was hard. You are gently reminding us of what it means to be human and live with an open heart, and that is appreciated. So sorry she is having to bear the deepest loss, she is lucky to have you. With love to all of you. Tina