I watched a movie about a father who lost his daughter due to an illness. Even though I wasn’t a fan of the movie, one line has stuck in my head. “Just be sure to notice the collateral beauty.”
What does that even mean? How do you find beauty in a child’s death?
Collateral beauty is the light you have to find within the dark. The small good that comes in the form of bad.
Love is so powerful that it continues even after death. The impact of that pain can bring us closer to life, other people, and other places. But the only way we can do this is if we allow it.
It’s hard to believe that we have the power to see light when something so traumatic happens. But it is possible. You can use your experience to help others. In the process of helping others, you help yourself. The person that is no longer with us, continues to touch lives through you.
I compare this to the loss of my aunt. She was one of the most important people in my life. She was my righthand man, the life of the party, and someone I admired. When she got sick, I couldn’t understand why. She was too young to die. The pain hurt so bad, but there was nothing I could do to change what was happening. The only option was to find a new way to keep her in my life and live through me.
“Tomorrow is not guaranteed” is no longer a stupid cliche, it is reality. That experience showed me that not everyone gets to live their fair share of life. I didn’t want to waste anymore of my life doing things that made me unhappy.
I was okay with ending my relationship of five years that I had been miserable in. I became more confident in who I am and took risks. I left my job for an unexpected opportunity. Even though Claire is not physically with me, she is still impacting my life. She is helping me change who I am. She is helping me find a better version of myself.
I think about her every day and remember that life is short. She wants me to be happy and she is looking out for me.
I’ve taken part in Relay for life for years. I’ve met survivors and heard their stories. I’ve heard the stories of other people who have lost loved ones. We support each other.
I’ve raised money and sold items to donate to the American Cancer Society. I never got to meet who benefited from that money, but I know someone did. I’ve felt their pain without even knowing their story and because of Claire, I want to help. Maybe because of her, I can change someone’s day.
If I could have it my way, my aunt would still be here with me. I’m not going to pretend like it doesn’t suck. But the reality is, no matter what I do, how much I pray, or how many tears come streaming down my face, she is no longer physically here. I carry her in my heart and because of this, she still effects my life and many others.
So when you are at the lowest point in your life, remember that there is a small light in the dark. Collateral beauty can be memories, experiences, or anything that you shared. It’s the things that keep you pushing when you don’t want to. And when the time comes to heal, the beautiful parts of the relationship will be remembered. They will live on with you and help shape your life.
The people we love are never truly gone when they live on through us.