I sat in a coffee shop downtown, across a too small table from the other half of my business meeting as we brainstormed and shared ideas. Good ideas. I was animated in expressing my thoughts, but reserved and respectful in listening to his.
I brought up HopeSpring. I told him the story of how I wanted an event unlike anything else we did, one that was filled with joy, laughter, and truly a respite from the deep, and oftentimes dark, of grief. And gosh was it fun. Side-splitting laughter. Giveaways. The best food I've had in a long time.
He listened intently, chin resting on his fists as he leaned over his notebook. He laughed when I told him the story of how after our first HopeSpring event, one of my board members told me with a tone of surprise, "Tonight was a lot of fun."
"Good!" I answered. "It was supposed to be!" He knew this. He had been at every meeting where I updated on the plans and progress of the event, and he was there when I shared it's purpose and my vision for what it would be.
He looked at me and confessed, "Yeah, but I didn't want to come."
I laughed him off. He couldn't have been serious. But his eyes were very serious. I stopped laughing. "What do you mean you didn't want to come?" I inquired.
"I didn't want to be in a room full of sad people."
And there it was. The confession of a board member who knew my one goal for the evening was to give every attendee an escape from the sad. And if HE thought that, gracious me, how many others had thought the same?
After all, we're Harlynn's Heart. We exist because of the tragedy of losing a baby. We sit with families in the darkest of their days. We specialize in keeping broken hearts beating.
What we do is because of the sad. So therefore everything we do would come from that...right?
Come from that, yes. Be that, no.
When HopeSpring was an idea, it came on the tails of a prayer. I didn't feel like I had anything left to give Harlynn's Heart. I didn't feel like we were helping people fully, or effectively.
The answer to my prayer came in the form of a statement of accountability. "Harlynn's Heart has a three-fold mission: to spread love, support, and hope. You've done really well with the love and support part."
So HopeSpring came to be. What would I want, what would I need, to be given a breath of fresh air? Of renewal? Of hope?
The answer to those questions came easier than one might think. For starters, I'd want someone else to cook me dinner and clean up after me. And I'd want to laugh. Hard. I'd want to have a night to just enjoy.
It felt weird, honestly, inviting a comedian to come present to a group of parents who walked with a daily dose of grief. Was this the right thing to do?
It was. It was the absolute right thing.
And we're doing it again.
And this time, so the people in the back can hear, let me just shout it out: THIS NIGHT IS A TON OF FUN!
Don't take my word for it. Here's what just a few who attended had to say:
What was your favorite part about HopeSpring 2019? "Laughing and visiting with other loss parents and of course the prizes!" "The comedian was amazing....I always love just being around the loss community when we attend events like this." "It was a simple date night without the hassle and normal price tag for a date night!" "Comedian and just getting out for the night for a little bit."
While getting the word out for HopeSpring 2020, what would you suggest we communicate more clearly? "How many of those Oreo bar/brownies there will be haha. Delicious!" "How much fun it will be!" (I hear you! I'm trying to do just that!) "Went great!"
So why would you want to come to HopeSpring? Why would anyone want to come to an event like this, and just be around a bunch of sad people?
I guess I'd just have to say in answer to that, the only sad people will be the ones who don't make it to HopeSpring.