Day 285, New Year’s Resolution

As happens every year about this time, we all think about New Year’s resolutions. Maybe we want to lose weight, or kick a bad habit, or budget better, or exercise more. For us, it has been a terribly difficult year – but we’ve also learned a lot about ourselves, about our communities, and about life in general. Over the past 10 days since Amber’s wake and funeral, we’ve had some time to reflect a bit, and came to a realization of what we need to do better in 2019.

The support we have received over the course of this journey has been incredible. Thank you to everyone that has thought about or prayed for Amber and for us, sent notes, messages, letters, packages, food, made phone calls, talked with us, or attended the wake or funeral. Truly, we are humbled by the love we’ve felt.

One thing that really struck us, though, was just how often people mentioned this blog. When we first started this blog, it was simply a way for Caron and me to spend less time sending out updates to everyone about how Amber was doing. We really only expected a few close friends and family to follow the blog, but even with that expectation, it was still uncomfortable for Caron and me to write. We are very private people, and the thought of sharing these details in writing was a bit scary.

But sharing the story became therapeutic for us, and the blog also became part of our support process as people reached out through the blog, or knew what we were going through because they read the blog and offered us assistance.

And this is where our recent realization comes in. As uncomfortable as it was, making our story public helped bring us much support. But we realize that many people going through difficult times suffer silently, and so do not receive the volume or quality of support that we received.

And so, this brings us to our resolution for 2019 – we will strive to be more aware when people around us are experiencing tragedies, difficulties, challenges, and try to find ways to support them as we have been supported, even if it is something as minor (but incredibly valuable) as a note or a hug to let them know they are being thought about.

Over the past few weeks, multiple people have shared touching stories with us where Amber teaches us this lesson. Even in the last month of her life, as her energy and patience was decreasing, Amber would check on her friends that were sick, and greet everyone with a sincere “how are you doing?”. If Amber can seek to understand other people’s challenges and provide support, in spite of everything she was facing, then so can we.

And we invite all of you to do the same. In Amber’s memory, in Amber’s Way, please look for those that need help, those that may be suffering in silence. And look to find ways to support them, knowing that sometimes even the smallest gestures of support can have incredible value.

Caron and I will be writing a couple more blog posts, but we are coming to an end for this blog. We will keep the blog online though, in case anyone else finds value in reading about Amber’s story, so please feel free to share with anyone that might find interest. Happy New Year to everyone – may 2019 bring peace to us all.

16 thoughts on “Day 285, New Year’s Resolution

  1. Happy New Year! Sending you love and comfort this year. I will try and remember to check on people in need. God Bless you Smith family. ❤️

  2. I too, am very private. And about a month ago- We lost our oldest & first family pet. I was a hot mess…inside. I came in to drop off the kids (they had a dentist appointment that morning I believe) and Caron was there- sorting and stuffing folders for the week. She knew what had happened (our girls are very good friends), said she was sorry for our loss and offered me a hug. I looked into her eyes, walked up to her and unexpectedly…. Cried… Alot. You see- You don’t even really have to try. It’s something within you. Which I know, without a doubt, must be a beautiful family trait of compassion. Her comfort and understanding was a complete blessing that day and I’ll never forget it. ♥️

  3. Even in your darkest moments, Caron checked in to see if I was okay, becaus she heard that I was struggling. Your strength and faith are inspiring. Thank you.

  4. Thank you Matt and Caron For being such a blessing and a grace to so many of us by the way you have lived your life in the year 2018.
    May God bless the three of us to notice his coincidence miracles at least once each day from now on.
    You are both bright lights in a gray world
    Tony Coscia

  5. It is absolutely Amber’s legacy that we all show each other more kindness and try to be aware that everyone has a story and anyone around us may be struggling at any given time. Wishing your family peace; I will always think fondly of Amber and she will inspire me to do better.

  6. Matt and Caron,
    Your blog has been a blessing for all of us. Amber was always looking out for someone else, and never complained about what she was going through. It is obvious that you,her parents, were such role models for her in this and in so many different ways. That is the legacy that she leaves us. She has touched so many people as was evident in the wake and the funeral, as well as in the many posts in your blog. You shared your heartbreak with us, but you also coupled it with your faith. You are one beautiful and amazing family! Although the days ahead will be difficult, please know that you are in the thoughts and prayers of so many people whom you have inspired. May God give you the comfort and peace that you so deserve.

  7. Matt and Caron:

    Your thoughtful and beautiful writings on your blog have been a tangible and powerful witness to the reality of unconditional love and to a wisdom born of suffering. Your transparency was a wonderful gift that you shared with everyone. You connected us with the deepest part of our common humanity- evoking such emotions and experiences as sadness/joy, fear/hope, control/surrender – demonstrating that they are mysteriously intertwined and not meant to be separated.

    Your invitation to us to be aware of and to intentionally “reach out” to the suffering and lonely souls in our midst is both challenging and inspiring. Your understanding that love is meant to move outward, not to be stagnant or closed in on itself, is instructive to all of us.

    You have opened our hearts and eyes to the core of the Christian message and I am so grateful to both of you for sharing Amber’s and your family’s journey.

    May God Bless You all.

    Jerry Monahan

  8. I’ve appreciated the updates and bless you for sharing this extremely private part of your life. Your angle is now watching you from above. God bless you all

  9. Your writing and the example your family set for how to demonstrate compassion and Grace in the midst of challenge and heartache was and continues to be inspiring. I will look for ways to reach out to others to offer support and comfort, and I will think of your family and Amber as I do so. Sending you prayers for strength in the days ahead. May you find sources of comfort in your grief as you have so aptly given it to others.
    Kelly Shaw

  10. Reading this entry brought tears of gratitude to my eyes. Yes!!!! Love, Aunt Jean.

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