Even tragedies carry lucky pennies and lie down to watch the stars at night.

via weheartit.com

I found a penny laying face up in the middle of the Target parking lot and I noticed his birth year sitting next to Lincoln’s head. 1987. It was not until I reached the front of the line at Starbucks did I realize the penny was still in the palm of my hand.

Did you want to pay with that also?” The barista asked, gesturing towards the penny.

Oh, this?” I looked down. 1987.No. No, I am all set. Thank you.”

The penny had traveled with me that entire morning. Through the aisles of Trader Joe’s. Into my Credit Union. All the way to Starbucks. Never once did I set it down but never once did I realize I was still holding it. As if I had saved it from the hot concrete and shopping carts that rolled to kill. All because of 1987, the birth year of a boy who I want to make better.

 How many of us today are walking around with pockets full of heartache, lucky pennies in our palms and the sorrow of someone else piled on our shoulders? Our prayers at night feel swollen like bee stings. We take up superstitions as a last resort; As if the universe will shift when the clock turns 11:11 or we wish upon that star. Optimism sits sweltering in our lungs and we deliver a scripted set of upbeat words to others even though we sometimes think our rhetoric is better suited for the front of a coffee mug or in a sympathy rack of cards at Hallmark. Coming anywhere but from the mouth of a person who is going home tonight to buckling knees and tears that are waiting in the wings to make their appearance.

Every single day a Tragedy arrives to someone in this world. Every Single Hour. Every Minute. Every Second. And Tragedy, though to some of us she is a quiet woman and to others he is a gaunt and tired man, always shows up with the intention of knocking us down. Intentions to Suck Us Dry of Faith, Tears and Lights that Belong at the Ends of Our Tunnels. Tragedy hands us a frame that envelopes its own family portrait saying, “These are the members of my family that you will meet soon enough.” There is Nights Spent Crying Yourself to Sleep on the left, Songs That Serve as a Sad Reminder in the middle and Unanswered Questions is the little one in the front.

 Yes, Tragedy has the potential to sweep us up, encompass us and make us believe that this world is one that uses sorrow and sadness as the fuel to keep it spinning. But if we never experienced tragedy we would never know the meaning of strength. We would never understand how it feels to stand atop of a mess instead of within it, how to thank those who have supported us through an incredibly dark time. Without tragedy we would be at a loss for two declarations when we look up into the night sky:

One) The morning always follows.

 Two) The stars come out to light our way like beacons of hope in a world that sometimes convinces us that we are all alone.

At one point or another we all carry some kind of tragedy that we believe is not fit for the ears and eyes of others. We all reach a point where we want to curse the existence of language and words because none can add up to a justifiable sentence that can sum up the pain we feel for another. Tragedies will always exist that make us question a higher power who can allow Addictions, Death, Disease and Abuse to roam this earth.

Trust me, I wish tragedy were a concept that shimmered and sparkled and made us all feel warm and fuzzy, but it never can be so. And this jumbled jagged mess reveals a truth like the pearl that sits and waits in the oyster: That sometimes things are not “as simple as that.” Sometimes cracked hearts, ruined spirits, hungry souls and lost causes aren’t fit to be tied up with a pretty white bow.

But regardless, they exist. And for that reason alone we need to cope. To be strong. To look for light. To be light. I cannot be everything all the time, but in this very moment I can be a Lantern. In hopes that someone might see my light and hitch their hope to me like a wagon, and I will help them find a way home. Perhaps someone will, perhaps someone won’t. But I figure that if I gain the strength to be a lantern, then someone else might find my light and a way to soothe my tragedies as well. And We Will Keep The World Spinning On Something Other Than Sadness And Sorrow.

Until that day I will carry in my palms a thousand prayers and a single penny for a broken boy whose birth year is 1987. And inside of myself I will carry a reason to believe in both.

42 thoughts on “Even tragedies carry lucky pennies and lie down to watch the stars at night.

  1. Can I just say that this post and your words just blow me away!!!

    I related to so much of this because of all the tragedy that I have experienced. It’s made me much stronger than ever before and I will always be grateful for it.



    1. Thank you! It means the world to me that people like my words so much. I am glad you enjoy reading this stuff just as much as I enjoy writing it.


      Hannah Katy

  2. ash – beautiful. i love the reference to 11:11. no matter how hokey it is i always make a wish (whenever i remember in time). it reminds me to keep hope and of the people who have in the past and are at that moment making wishes with me.

  3. Such a beautiful post. Each time your ‘new post’ alert shows in my e-mail I smile, excited to read you.

    A mix of emotions swam through me as I read this.

    “And Tragedy, though to some of us she is a quiet woman and to others he is a gaunt and tired man, always shows up with the intention of knocking us down.”

    Tragedy does show itself differently to everyone, doesn’t it.

    Again, I enjoy your words.

    (Shameless plug: I’m apart of a young adult writers blog round and have a short of a picture inspired writing posted today. I’d love for you to stop by and give it a read. Though I have to admit, my writing is no where near as poetic as this, I’d love for you to stop by.)

    Thanks so much. I’ll stop in again soon.

    1. I think it does.. To me tragedy is an old woman… at least that is the personification in my head. I will definitely check that out tonight when I arrive home! Expect to hear from me soon!

      And thank you again, I always adore your feedback.


      Hannah Katy

  4. You’re right about how tragedy can’t be wrapped up in a pretty bow. I went to a friend’s funeral (32, 4 year old son) about a month ago and still haven’t found the words…

    1. Wow. That is so young… And I think sometimes the words just are not there for a while… This is a tragedy I have been wrapped up in for a good nine years and I am now just finding the beginnings to sentences to start.


      Hannah Katy

  5. Oh how much I love this. I may have to share this with someone I spent about four hours with last night walking the streets of the city, who was so sad post-breakup at the thought of closing the chapter, of allowing this other person to continue on a road of detriment without being able to help or shape them any more… “I cannot be everything all the time, but in this very moment I can be a Lantern.” This is the choice I made last night for my friend – knowing I couldn’t make it stop or go away, but I could shine a little light. I should have read your post sooner 🙂

    I too hope one day you will write a book, or at least that you’ll keep these posts and get them printed and bound. I do that yearly and my writing isn’t half as good as you; I just think future generations really need your words in their lives. 🙂

    1. You drive me to tears, all of you, seriously. I want more than anything to write books so it means so much to get such encouragement. If my words transfer over and resonate to one person then that is more than enough… I am happy and full just with that.


      Hannah Katy

  6. Hannah, I can’t tell you now much this post resonated with me… I have so many times asked myself, if there could really be a reason for all this tragedy in the world, and why I still refuse to see it as something good, we can see it as something that helps us grow and learn to be a little kinder to the ones around us.
    Every day, we might be helping someone when we don’t even know of it.

    1. I am in complete and total agreement with you love. That is what pushes me to be a good person in this lifetime, impacting the lives of someone else, leaving footprints in places without ever even knowing it… We never know the lives we change and impact, we just need to trust that we do.


      Hannah Katy

  7. Hannah,

    This post really hit home with me…I have been dealing with some serious issues concerning someone really close to me this summer..and it hasn’t been easy…but this post perfectly outlines that tragedy ultimately hits all of us in different ways. Your writing is so beautiful and “from the heart” which leads to so many people being able to relate to what you are saying…I agree that you need to write a book! Keep it up 🙂

    1. Thank Lauren. I am always so humbled by people getting something out of my posts, so it means a lot that you told me this. Guess I need to start brewing up book ideas ha ha.


      Hannah Katy

  8. I can’t describe to you the feeling I have in the pit of my stomach, but I know it means something big.

    I love this post. It made my day 🙂

    All my best to you always,

  9. This is so touching, Hannah. You always give me chills with your eloquence. So beautiful. You have such a way with words that really sucks me in and makes me think. So wonderfully, sorrowfully beautiful.

    1. The post “Cereal Box Confessions” is a good post to read before this one… But I may just have to do some filling you in on my own. Always like to leave my posts a little open ended.


      Hannah Katy

  10. Very well written. I’ve been thinking about all of this a lot lately… about how pain and tears and tragedies are all a part of life. Sometimes when they happen, I can’t help but wonder what I did wrong and what I did to deserve them. Thing is, you don’t earn them. They just happen to you… the fact of that matter is, they happen to everyone.

    And yes, I think it’s wonderful that you’re striving to be a light of sorts to others. That’s a great undertaking 🙂 The world will be a dark, lonely place if people like yourself never choose to the be the light.

    Oh, and good luck with the boy… whatever the situation might be.

    1. Very true Felisa. I think it is natural for us to question why a tragedy has to land on our plate. But I honestly feel like this whole life is hemmed together by little reasons, even if those reasons are not always in the forefront when we want them to be.

      And thank you, this is not a post about kind of love story or anything.. A family member of mine.


      Hannah Katy

  11. I definitely needed this. June has been a hard time for my family, with losing my Memere to finding out that my cousin (34 years old) has stage 4 cancer. You are an amazing writer and definitely will go far. Not too many people can put thoughts into words so well.

    1. It hurts me to know the sadness in the world and even more to know that good people like you have to go through it. I really am sorry for your struggles this year.

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for your kind words about my writing.


      Hannah Katy

  12. I think I need to make sure I have tissues on hand from now on when I read your posts! This is simply beautiful, heart-wrenching and has left me in total amazement.

  13. Those two declarations are so beautiful … and so true. Thank you for so eloquently voicing them, and giving hope to so many of us in the process.

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