Lessons in the Heartbreak


We lost our sweet girl almost 11 years ago. Her full story is for another time but there are always sprinkles of goodness amidst the tragedy and there have been many bright spots along the way. Sophia was everything good and pure in this world and not a day goes by that I don’t feel an emptiness. As time moves on, the edges dull and the pain isn’t as acute but there’s always a feeling that I can’t shake like something is missing and unsettled. 

The only thing we have left of her are our memories and as time moves on, our memories fade. I think one of the hardest things for me is thinking that one day she’ll be forgotten. She impacted so many people in her 4 1/2 months on this earth and definitely left an imprint on our family, and many others. The lessons will be how she lives on, hopefully for a very long time. 

Since she passed, there is one thing that I try to keep in the forefront of my mind and I will always thank her for. This lesson has changed my perspective on life and is something that I’m honored to pass along. It is simply, do not judge. 

Sophia spent the majority of her life in the PCICU. I distinctly remember taking the shuttle from UCSF back to the Ronald McDonald House one night after Sophia had had a particularly awful day and I was crushed. Not to be dramatic but it was a black hole, couldn’t see any way out, all-consuming, soul-crushing sadness. 

I looked around and saw people just carrying on with their daily lives, laughing, texting, going home from work. It was then that I realized, absolutely no one knew that my heart was literally breaking. No one knew that my baby was so sick and might not make it home. I distinctly remember thinking, I look normal on the outside but I’m far from it. My life is changing and will never be the same. I wondered how many other people I’d passed on the street were having the absolute worst day of their lives and I had never known. How many people looked ok on the outside but were far from it on the inside?

You have no idea what someone else has been through or what they are going through. You never know why they act the way they do or say the things that they say. You never know what they are pushing down or the deep reasoning behind their behavior. 

Sophia taught me to always lead with kindness, to be more understanding. That my sadness is not greater than anybody else’s. That we all have our own distinct and difficult stories. That we are always way more complex than what you see at first glance.

This has been my greatest heartbreak but her wisdom has also been my greatest gift.