April 13, 2010 at 10:50 am 2 comments

I have three nephews, sons of my brother and sister-in-law.  Two of the boys visited here with their parents this New Year’s.  My other nephew never got to visit.  He only lived nine days.

Today, Spenser would have been nine years old, had he made it.  But, he was born way too early, weighed less than two pounds.  It’s a miracle he held out more than a week in the NICU before he died in his parents’ loving arms.

This year, Spenser’s passing has hit me harder than it has in other recent years.  Perhaps it is because I now have a little boy of my own, who I am getting to know, who arguably looks more like my eldest nephew (Spenser’s blood brother) than he looks like his own sister, in coloring at least.  All day today, I looked at my son and thought of the little boy who did not get to join us for this life.  I know my brother and sister-in-law look at their boys all the time and remember the third, and imagine what life would be like if he was here, too.

They started a non-profit organization, Spenser’s Hope, that raises awareness and money for research on pre-term labor.  They tried to turn their loss into something that could at least help others.

My family did the same when my dad had heart surgery ten years ago.  We wrote a book about it, about the emotions of it, for a family.  It’s a good book, it can help people. And it has been sitting on the shelf, so to speak, for several years, waiting for us to do a final edit and self-publish it, as has been our plan, so it can at least get into the hands of people who can use it.

This book, as Spenser’s Hope, is not about anything but supporting those who will go through what we did.  It’s not about anything but taking a harrowing experience we had and turning it into something we can learn from. The manuscript is on my desk now.  My family has passed it to me this year to do the final edit and ready it for publication.  To complete the project.  I’m posting this so I hold myself accountable for it, so I motivate to do it this summer alongside other projects and daily life as a parent of two little ones.

My family has taught me some great lessons about success.  One lesson is that we face the hard stuff, we don’t sweep it under the rug.  We don’t just put on a happy face and buck up, but we don’t just sit there and wallow either.  We stop, and we acknowledge what is painful, what is meaningful, what is moving us.  This is not always neat or easy, definitely not always pretty, but I am proud of this legacy, and I hope to pass it on.

Another lesson is that what gives us the most satisfaction in life are not always the things that give us the most accolades, the biggest paychecks, or the gold stars.  Success, my family shows me, is living inside of the real stuff of life, the relationships and how we affect one another.

Each year on Spenser’s birthday, my brother and his family have a celebration, they choose together something they think a boy that age would enjoy.  Each year on my dad’s heart surgery date, I know that he takes stock of all that he has experienced in his “borrowed time,” as he calls it.  Spenser’s Hope reminds us.  I hope I will get this book done to remind us, too.

A legacy of success — not of fame or financial gain — but of living each day looking for ways to be real, to make a difference, and to remember what we have lost and gained.

Which, always, always, comes down to the people we hold closest to our hearts.

Happy Birthday, sweet angel Spenser.  Until we meet again…


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Race to Nowhere Bold Parent Credo

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jeff Pincus  |  April 14, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Thank you, that was beautiful.

  • 2. Vicki  |  April 18, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    I lost my sister when she was 19. As each one of my children reach/ed their 19th birthday I was struck by the power of the day. I hadn’t realized that I was holding so firmly to my sister at 19. I hadn’t realized that I was holding my breath. I fell completely and utterly apart when my oldest hit 19. I was caught off guard for, what I call, the emotional hit. I can’t say it gets any easier, but at least I know it’s coming.

    This letting go and celebrating is a journey. Like you, it is the balance of staying present without dwelling. Feeling what you feel without attachment. It is a reminder, that life is precious. Thank you for sharing this very personal story.


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To spark conversation about redefining success (as individuals, families and institutions) and to counter "never enough" messages currently circulating in our culture.

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Megan Pincus Kajitani: Writer, Editor, Former Academic Overachiever and Career Counselor, Mom, Wife, Feminist, Gen Xer, Californian who believes that change is possible View Megan Pincus Kajitani's profile on LinkedIn

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