This past weekend, Erik and I were able to get away - alone - for a few days. It wasn't so much to escape our lives, as we are constantly thinking about Sawyer - but to simply be together, and grow closer through our loss and grief.
On Saturday, we decided to make reservations for dinner at a rustic lodge inside White Pines state park here in Illinois. It was straight out of a postcard - walls and beams made of logs, a table next to a giant stone fireplace and delicious "down-home cooking."
There was a wedding reception outside in a beautiful foyer between the restaurant and gift shop and Erik noticed a white, horse-drawn carriage taking guests from the wedding for rides through the pine forest. He jumped up in the middle of dinner to book a trip around the park before the driver and his horse packed up and left for the day.
Excitedly, we paid our check and hopped into the buggy for the last ride at sunset (my first carriage ride ever!). Our driver was a friendly man in his 60s, lean and tall with a light southern accent - he introduced himself to us as Jim.
Throughout the ride, we all talked and shared short stories of our lives. Where we were from, how long we've been married...
And then the topic of children popped up. The first time I had been asked since Sawyer died - "Do ya'll have any children of your own at home?" Jim asked us.
I told him we had a beautiful little girl that kept us quite busy. Then, hesitated for a moment, and said that we also had a son who had died in June.
Jim listened as I briefly talked about Sawyer and I noticed that his stature had shifted - and for some reason, I knew he understood.
He told us that he had two children of his own - a son and a daughter - grown with children of their own. And then he told us about his first child - a boy, "born sleeping" in 1976.
As the sound of the horse and carriage moving through the woods echoed off the canyon walls, he told us all about the baby that he and his wife lost. He said that things happen for a reason, but what that reason might be, we'll probably never know.
He offered us his condolences, as we did for him and I thought about how beautiful the moment was. That we could share such an intimate part of our lives with a total stranger would have seemed crazy just a few months ago.
And now, it will be a memory that I will treasure in my heart for a long time to come - and know that somehow, Sawyer brought us here to that moment...
For a reason.