Notes on Love & Courage…


When I was falling in love with Joshua, I had this sense of urgency– like shit! The One is here and I’m not ready for him, or this! I had only recently (at that time) finally “let go” once and for all of the broken bonds I had with Philly, and I kept finding myself smiling in the rear view mirror of my car, which was always being pulled down for regular last checks before a table serving shift, and it would always take me by surprise. I was happy. Single and complete unto myself and my Isaac. I was not looking for big love. I was at peace within my soul.
And then that big hunk of man showed up in my life after a long while and I was toast.

As it happened, life threw some curve balls and I checked out of my body for awhile. That’s all I will say about that, but it made falling in love precarious, to say the least.
The interesting thing about the love was that I kept feeling the strangest sense that I loved Josh like I loved Isaac. This felt both thrilling and terrifying– and also confusing. I always thought the way I loved Isaac was not reproducible. Impossible to recreate– or create at all. The differences were that Josh could really tick me off and (re?)activate a deep fear of rejection, where with Isaac, I always belonged and was always devoted. But the similarities were I would do anything for this person and love them with all that I had and something primal– something I didn’t have words for then, something that I think I am just starting to define now.

This kind of love changes you. For the better. Before Isaac I was floundering. Once he was here, though many parts of my life were and remain in the ether, I became very rooted by this love and conviction and devotion and it fundamentally changed me as a human being.


When you fall in love with The One, you invite a reflection into your life that mirrors you to yourself and changes you, if you’re paying attention and you stop resisting. It took me awhile to stop resisting, but I was always fascinated by the reflection. Love like this changes everything. It is a rebirth in itself. So that impulse, that unexplainable feeling of truth, makes sense, even more today, in the aftermath of deep pain and inexplicable loss. I can see so clearly that when The One arrived, it stirred up so much inside but felt familiar, because at its root, familiar is familial, I was recognizing my family in Joshua as I had only truly madly deeply felt it with Isaac.

I recently heard a mama explain to her son, in a movie, as she was dying, and wanting to leave him with her best wisdom, that when you are “like us” you feel the good and see the color WAY WAY WAY up here as she stretched her fragile body to show him. And then she said, and when you are like us and you hurt, you feel way way way down here as she stretched her fragile body to show him. You’ve got to explore more of the space between she said. And I could relate. I’m a feeler. A great big feeler. I feel it all and I love so big. And I love many others so very deeply. But today I honor my truth that I have been blessed twice by the biggest love I know as possible.

All this leaning into 40 and surrendering to grief has me quite contemplative this summer. I’ve been brought to a standstill with some minor health issues. I don’t feel very good, I’m ok but… unwell. Slowing down to a turtles pace while my lovely mirror is running marathons of might and will, and I can see myself more clearly because at the end of the day, he continues to keep the promises he made to both Isaac and I, he continues to reflect me back to myself, and because of love, despite pain, loss, and darkness, I am illuminated by big love and shown grace and patience to embody all that the reflection contains, with deep love and conviction and devotion. Josh loves me like a mama. He is my family. Our life and our love endures. I am for him and he is for me. Lucky me. Blessed be.
Gratefully…

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Published by: christinaryanstoltz

I write to touch the supple center of unguarded ache~ To release myself from the pressure of not knowing how to move forward from the unfathomable loss of my beloved son, my beautiful boy Isaac, to suicide, of not knowing how to release my grip on of the past, both the worshipping of it as well as the beating myself up for it, and letting go of the need to know what I could’ve done or what on earth I will do now. I write to heal.

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