• Liz Shemwell

Breaking the Silence


Other than #MarcoMondays, it’s been a while since you’ve heard much from us here at MSF. Thank you for sticking with us and for your patience. In honor of transparency, we want to continue to be open in our journey even when it isn’t easy, even when it’s been a while.


Since January, I have been dealing with a plethora of emotions. To be honest, the bad days seemed to outnumber the good, and all of my energy went into being present for my family and simply getting them and myself through the day. Anxiety and depression, things I had personally not felt prior to Marco’s death, had become familiar. It became a daily battle to get off the couch, to get dressed, to be productive. Admittedly, I struggled although I hid it behind a smile.


Fast forward a couple of months when we found out that we would be adding to our family! (More on that later). The joy of this moment coincided with fear. So many “what ifs” swirled through my mind, adding to my anxiety. My happiness not diminished, but rather co-existing with my nervousness.


Then, a world-wide pandemic, forcing us into our homes and isolating us from family, friends, jobs, and support systems. A delayed trial, emergency home-schooling, toilet paper and hand sanitizer shortages, and so on. All of this coupled with my already anxious feelings, as well as the tiredness and emotional ups, downs, and sleepless nights of first trimester pregnancy left me feeling even more out of sorts and displaced. I found it difficult to concentrate. I found it difficult to engage, difficult to put words to feelings as my thoughts and emotions overwhelmed me. I even found it difficult to pray. I honestly felt like there was too much to pray for and I didn’t know where to begin. So, I often just sat in silence, praying “Lord, I don’t know, but you do. You know what the world needs, you know what I need, you know my heart. Your will be done.”


Going into the second trimester, I finally began to feel more energized with a renewed sense of purpose. We started thinking about Birthday Boxes 2.0 (more on that later too), however kept hitting logistical roadblocks with new and constantly changing Covid-19 guidelines. I felt both overwhelmed and discouraged.


Soon, we would all witness heartbreaking and violent acts of racism played out for the world to see, leading to both peaceful protests and blazing riots. And everything else appeared to take a backseat to the injustices taking place. I found hope in the acts of love, kindness, compassion, friendship, unity, and equality that were seen in response. I felt a deep sadness by the acts of rage, anger, ignorance, and inequality that continued. I began to participate in encouraging conversations, educating myself, confronting my own bias, letting go of offense, being more intentional in uplifting others and promoting equality. I am determined to continue the work.


And now, it seems like the dust is trying to settle as we begin to find our way to a new normal. I have lost count of the number of times I have reset my idea of normal life. If anything, I’m beginning to realize that a sense of normalcy these days is a temporary illusion as the world feels anything but normal.


So here we are. Still stifled by a pandemic while wanting to affect change – be an ally for the marginalized, disenfranchised, and discriminated against. Wanting to be a conduit of hope, comfort, and healing by continuing to create positive ripples. Wanting to continue Marco’s legacy in meaningful ways. Wanting to help families celebrate birthdays. All of this while also wanting to keep myself, my family, and our baby safe and healthy. Feeling unspeakable joy at our tiny miracle while also dodging emotional landmines as we prepare for this beautiful blessing. All of these complex feelings balancing unsteadily on top of an ever-present undercurrent of grief.


Like me, I know many of you share in conflicting feelings of compassion, joy, hope, confusion, angst, and fear while also feeling overwhelmed by the world right now.


This has been a season of distress for many of us. It has taken me time to find the words and courage to share this part of my story. Please receive it with grace. I want to be honest. I want to break the silence.


Hope does not shield us from the heaviness of this world, but it does give us a place to rest.


Rest well, friends.

Marco Shemwell Foundation

To bring hope, comfort, and healing by creating Marco Moments that leave ripples of positive change.

Email: liz.shemwell@marcoshemwellfoundation.org​

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