Sarah Stultz: Sometimes all you can do is inch forward

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

The Fourth of July is one of those holidays that I have a love-hate relationship with. 

While I love the holiday and all of the activities in our community during the Fourth, it is also a trigger time for me, as it brings me back to this same time six years ago when my daughter, Sophie, died. 

Sophie loved the holiday, too,  and every year we enjoyed going to Albert Lea’s Third of July Parade and watching the fireworks from the backyard of some dear friends who lived  around the circle from us on East Park Avenue overlooking Fountain Lake. 

When I think back to those years, I have many fond memories of Sophie at previous Fourth of July festivities, as well as photographs to corroborate my memories. I have memories of dressing Sophie up in cute patriotic outfits when she was young, of her being covered practically head to toe in stickers from political candidates of all affiliations from the parade, and memories of our get-togethers during and after the fireworks with our friends. One year our friend who is a photographer handed out props and other festive wear to people along the parade route as she went through and took their photograph. Sophie proudly wore some oversized heart sunglasses, while I donned a statue of liberty crown with my son on my lap. Who would have known how much I’d treasure that photo now?

The upcoming holiday this year is set up exactly as it was in 2016 with Saturday being July 2, and July 4 actually happening on Monday. 

It’s an extended holiday weekend for everyone, which is nice, but it will bring with it some difficult feelings for our family, for sure. 

As the anniversary of my daughter’s death approaches, this year I have been taken back by several friends who have also experienced the death of a child. I’d like to tell them the grief gets better with time — it does — but I think it’s not uncommon for there to still be triggers as time continues moving on. 

And that’s OK. 

For me, some of the triggers are around dates and special events, but at other times it is unpredictable.

To all the mommas out there who are new in this journey of losing a child, just remember all you need to do is take one day at a time. 

Grief looks different for everyone, so don’t compare yourself or how you’re doing with how someone else may be doing. 

There’s a lot we do not know about other people, and there’s a lot we may not see. Just focus on yourself and putting one foot in front of the other. 

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.