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Defining moments in my grief journey.

picture of ants used to talk about healing grief

Ants on the Sidewalk

My 3 year old son taught me the lesson of the Ants on the Sidewalk


How did I become active in my life again? By watching the Ants on the Sidewalk.


How did ants on the sidewalk become important to me? It was because I saw them through my 3 year old’s eyes. Billy was a very hands on kiddo, and wanted to know how everything worked, he still is that way now as an adult. He was kneeling down in the grass by our sidewalk yelling for me to come quick.


When I came close, I saw what he was looking at. It was an ant parade. He was looking closely at the legs on the ants and how they were carrying off his cookie crumbs. Marching in a perfect line into the crack in the concrete. My first reaction was dang it, gotta get the bug spray. But as I sat there and watched them with my son, I realized that I was still just existing in this world of mine, not fully enjoying what there was for me to experience. He was so excited at watching these ants, he had no fear of being bit by one. Billy was so amazed at how they could carry so much weight on their shoulders…


I sat there in the grass, and for the first time since Brandon died, I enjoyed being a mom again. Sharing special moments with my son. I had been his caretaker, more than his mother. I was so very afraid to let go and live with the love, as I was waiting for him to die too…


I was extremely protective and yet terrified at the same time. I had buried two of his brothers and had a nasty custody battle with my EX over my daughter. This had become pointless when I had to live in the hospital for 3 months with Brandon in cancer treatment. Then Brandon died. I let my daughter stay with her dad because I knew how unstable I was at that point. Her visits to our house of grief were enough, she didn’t need to live in that world every day. I had lost so much, I could not imagine Billy growing up to become an adult. I had stopped dreaming of a future and was just enduring each day. I was waiting for him to break my heart. I had a wall up and wouldn’t let anyone too close. Although closeness was what I needed, pushing away was what felt safe.


That lesson from my 3 year old stayed with me, when life got too complicated, I would think keep it simple, like the ants on the sidewalk.


Live in the moment! You hear that everywhere, but what does that mean? I was stuck in the past with no hope for the future, so I endured each day as another day in hell. I held onto the pain, it was my best friend. It went everywhere with me, and it was the only thing I knew would never leave me.


As I sat there with my 3 year old so fascinated with life, it was as if the ants were carrying off my pain, one little crumb at a time. I began to let go of the fear, and Billy got his mama back, stronger with each little ant going by. As I grew through my grief, that is exactly what I did, I lived in the moment. I planned for the future, but vowed to live right here, right now. I had lived in fear for too many years. 


When I think about the world of the ant, they could teach us a few things about life. They stick together, even when carrying a heavy load. They stay focused. They are fearless when protecting their home and offspring. They work together equally in building communities, yet they keep it simple.


So when life gets complicated, remember the ants on the sidewalk!

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Sandy Brosam ()


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