I don’t like the word hope.
To me, when we hope, we give control to someone or something other than ourselves. It’s a weak word. I prefer faith. Faith means I believe, I know it will happen. It means I am in control. It’s a strong word.
Then I learned about grief. Not just any kind of grief, but the most devastating, heart wrenching, crippling kind of grief that exists. The kind of grief that makes you wish for the end, your end. The kind of grief that is forever. I learned about faith and I learned about hope.
I remember it clearly on that late Friday morning, October 21st, 2011. We just returned from the high school where we told Jaclyn and Nolan about their brother. Where we ripped their world apart. I stood in my house as it filled with people. Family and friends. The support was amazing. But it didn’t matter as nobody could help me. I was broken, numb, confused. I had no idea what to do. How do you move, how do you recover, how do you live? I had no answers, and worse, I knew in that moment that if I had no answers for myself, I had no capacity to help my family.
My faith in God did not waiver. My faith in myself was gone. I was helpless. I was hopeless.
Herein enters Hope
A year earlier, I had been introduced to Cornerstone of Hope by a friend who did volunteer work for them (This is a story for a different day…a story about how God put all the pieces in place). But I remembered. After the funeral and things got quiet and life returned to normal for those that had carried us each day, we were left to face our life. We would have to face all the firsts, and they were coming fast. Halloween, Robby’s favorite day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, his birthday. All would be upon us within the first 60 days. How do we do this? I looked at my family and they looked to me; I had no answers for them.
Tattered, beaten, humbled, I turned, we turned to Cornerstone, and in that very dark moment, we saw a light.
Carla and I attended counseling together while Cornerstone sent counselors to the high school each week to meet with Nolan and Jaclyn. We had been given a lifeline, an angel that would help us deal with what we were now in the middle of. We survived the holidays. Group counseling followed for all of us, and slowly but surely we started to walk forward, learning how to adapt to our new normal.
Mark and Christi Tripodi are the founders of Cornerstone of Hope. They are selfless givers. They are heroes that have built an organization that catches us in our darkest moments. As we fall into the depths, they say we are here, we will catch you, we will hold you, and we will help you find the light in the absolute darkness.
Cornerstone of Hope saved us.
There is no other way to say it. We continue to rely on what they taught us, and each year in December, we head back for the candle ceremony where we share tears and memories with others that have been lost in their loss, and saved by this group.
I hate the word hope, but I learned that in loss and in grief, it is all we have. We are not in control. We don’t have all the answers and we are at our weakest. My faith in God never wavered, but I needed hope. I needed to count on someone else to do what I could not. I needed to hand control over to someone else.
At the lowest moment of my life, they were there. They gave me hope and that hope turned back into faith… the belief that I could move forward. That I could live again…that I could find a new normal.
Cornerstone did for my family what I could not. They were the rock for Carla, Jaclyn and Nolan.
They saved me, they saved my family, and they continue to be a cornerstone of our ability to move forward each day. They are THE CORNERSTONE OF HOPE.