This is going to be a very personal post. Please consider yourself warned upfront. If you’ve ever read Stephen Covey, listened to Tony Robbins or had any exposure to the personal development materials in the last fifty years, you have no doubt heard of Victor Frankl’s 1946 classic, Man’s Search For Meaning. Besides being gripping, heartbreaking history, this book is the foundation upon which the personal development industry has been built. It’s a great book that should be required reading for everyone about his struggles in a Nazi concentration camp. The basis of the book comes down that the only meaning that matters in the events of our lives is the meaning that we give them.

This post is about one of those moments.

Eleven years ago today, Carrie and I excited drove the hospital with the anticipation of meeting our first child. She wasn’t due for another week, but our doctor was set to induce labor on the morning of May 24. Looking back, she and I were both young and naive but we were ready to be parents. Carrie labored for a couple of hours until it was decided that the baby’s heartbeat was too faint to continue and it would probably be best if she were delivered via c-section. What I remember most about this moment is how terrified I was at the thought of this very common and routine procedure. Looking back, this was the safest part of our entire story.

Our little girl, Kennedy Grace Fisher, came into this world 11 years ago today and she was born with a severe heart condition that she never recovered from. She lived three months before her mother and I had to make the heartbreaking decision to let her go.

This is where Victor Frankl comes in. It is incredibly hard to find meaning in the loss of a child. It’s an unspeakable pain that can cause even the strongest people to lose their minds, but the only meaning that matters is the meaning that Carrie and I give to this moment of our lives.

Through this dark experience, there are rays of light that we wouldn’t have known otherwise. When our little girl was sick, our entire community came together to help us. There were chicken dinners and fundraisers, donations in our name and donations to our family. While we had always valued our community prior to having Kennedy, going through this cemented a sense of responsibility for us to pay that forward. To help where we can when we can. This is something we will sharing with our other children today when we make our annual trip back to the Ronald McDonald House where we stayed for three months to donate a meal and personal care items to families staying there. After the kind of support we were shown, we feel that there is no better way to honor the life our little girl than to give.

We also came to know, through this, that no matter what, we can always count on one another. The bond that Carrie and I have after having to make such a difficult decision so early in our marriage is one that cannot be broken. No matter what life may throw at us; financial problems, disappointments or hard times, we know that nothing will be as hard as what where we’ve already been and that’s a meaning worth giving.

Lastly, losing our daughter has left me with her story. In my work as a United Way Executive, I share this story frequently because a United Way Agency helped us when we needed it most. I share her story not to raise money, but so that other families can get the help they need should their time ever come. Sharing her story to help others again, gives some meaning to her tragedy that helps us find the light when we need it most.

Eleven years ago today, I became a father for the first time not knowing that in three months I would have to say goodbye to our angel. If I got the chance to live it all over again I would, regardless of the pain because of the meaning I can find in my little girl’s life and death today. The only meaning that matters in the events of our lives is the meaning that we give them. It’s my hope that you’ll find the positive in yours.

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