We left the house today at 10 a.m. heading to Los Angeles for our daughter's dance competition. On our way out we stopped at McDonald's for breakfast sandwiches to give us fuel for the two-hour drive ahead. The sun was shining, my husband was in a jolly mood, and my daughter was full of excitement about the weekend ahead.

All of a sudden, I heard my husband say, "My stomach gets tight every time I drive past here." I was looking out of the window to the right of the passenger seat, oblivious to what he was referring to. As I turned my head to ask him what he meant, I saw it. Rady Children's Hospital was to the left of the freeway. As soon as I laid eyes on the blue letters with the aqua kite, I knew immediately what he meant.

This was the hospital we visited every couple of months to meet with a pediatric cardiologist during our pregnancy with Riley Elizabeth. This was the place where the doctor told us everything was fine with our daughter's heart just one day before her heart stopped beating. This is the hospital where Riley's name is in the big book in the lobby because a donation was made by my husband's job in her honor.

Right when you think you are having a good day and your loss is somewhere in the background...Whap! You get blindsided. You don't see it coming and you are knocked a little off kilter when it hits. It takes you right back to the day, hour, or minute of your greatest pain. Grief is no respecter of persons. No matter how old or young, weak or strong you are, it hits you in the gut and knocks the wind out of you.

My husband is a big guy and not much gets him off center, but grief is the great equalizer. So when it hits you, don't fight it because you won't win. Let grief have it's way. Acknowledge the pain, allow yourself to feel the grief, and eventually it will return back to its cozy spot in the background of your mind. It will never fully go away, but you will be able to adjust to a new normal and find joy again.

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