When Ben Sauer was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the community collectively asked how such a thing could happen. We were angry, bitter, afraid for the little boy. And most of us had never met him. It’s a strange thing, really. There was just something about that little boy, his family, his life – that impacted so many. Something that caused us to go blue, and be blue. In a strange twist – many looked to Ben’s mother, Mindy for support, inspiration, answers. Her heartbreaking blog – which most read with tears flowing – made us feel better somehow.
There’s just no doubt, Mindy Sauer is an inspiration to many of us. I asked her about that responsibility, which she takes very seriously, “Most times, this idea is like an out-of-body experience. I hear people tell me that our story has inspired them, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like it’s me.”
But, of course, it is. Mindy’s words have such great impact. A mom, who has lost more than we can imagine, who relies on her faith to get her through. Her message is simple, she doesn’t have the control. HE does. And she relies on HIM. Mindy told me years ago that as much as she loved Ben, she knew that God loved him more. Those words stuck with me. Mindy’s main goal is that Ben’s death not be in vain.That his legacy is one of hope. She reminds us that sometimes, we have to look at the bigger picture, “Our time on this earth is so fleeting. We get to live a healthy eighty or ninety years, maybe more if we’re lucky, and then our kids will live another eighty/ninety more. We’re just another piece of the puzzle. I want to live in such a way that my kids have an easy life, a legacy they can be proud of. Not easy as in without struggles; that’s just about the only thing that God guarantees. But an easy life where they learn how little of it revolves around them. It takes the pressure off, knowing we’re part of a bigger story. An eternal story. One that has no real end and where we all get to be together forever. And in that place, there is no cancer, no hurt, no pain. I cannot think of a better legacy I’d want to be aligned with.”
Mindy started a blog not too long after having Jack and Ben, her adorable twin boys. It was a way to connect with the outside world. But things changed when she started communicating Ben’s diagnosis and progress through her writing. People she didn’t know were reading all about her family, which she says was difficult, “The introvert in me wanted to clam up. These people feel so connected to my family, praying for my son as passionately as if he were their own. Coming up to my kids and recounting details about them they learned from my blog. And this quiet stay-at-home mom pulled back. I knew that God had a purpose for me and that He was using our pain for His glory. That Ben’s story would not be finished with his death, but that God would use it to draw others to Him. But I honestly wasn’t too interested in being part of it. I was just a mom trying to raise her kids without screwing them up too much.”
Andy, Jack, Megan, Katie and Allison are her main focus, but Mindy still gives back – still helps others, in a more quiet, but just as important way, “I’ve been encouraging other bereaved moms, sending notes, texts, emails to them personally in order to try and meet them where they are. I’ve spoke at small women’s groups and conferences, encouraging women on a smaller scale how God can bring beauty from the ashes, with a few more speaking engagements on the calendar. And it really has brought me so much comfort: Benjamin didn’t die in vain. Others were going to be in heaven because of his life. And while it couldn’t bring him back, it helped give me comfort to know that he fulfilled a very valuable purpose.”
Mindy has recently made the decision to start blogging again – at some point soon, “I want God to use me. I want to use the platform God designed for me. I’m finally willing to be used again through the blog, wherever that might take me. But as always, my family comes first. There’s a lot of responsibilities I need to keep going before I can write. And with a nursing infant, I don’t have the luxury of going away for hours at a time to pen my thoughts. I wait until they’re all asleep in their beds. So I’m doing what I can. Because I want to be obedient to the Lord, but also because I want my son’s life to be celebrated.”
For those struggling with loss, with pain, with tragedy, Mindy says you are not alone, “You may feel like you’re the only one who can hurt this deeply. That no one else understands the depth of your pain. That no one could ever emerge from this kind of loss. And in our physical strength, you’re right. We were never meant to carry this kind of pain. God wants to carry it for us. And the most humbling part of my story has been acknowledging that even when I felt all alone, and that I was staring at the blackest darkness I have ever known… that God was always with me. The Creator of the Universe never left my side. All I had to do was look up and know that He was there the whole time. I’d want to say that things are hard now, friend. Yes. It sucks. It really does. But heaven is real. And God promises we won’t be separated from our loved ones forever. You can learn to live with your grief as a part of you now. Be sad when you need to; that just shows how deeply you loved. But then rise up again and keep on doing one more thing… brush your teeth. Wash your face. Do your hair. Write a note to someone else who’s struggling. Cry. Listen to hymns. Memorize scripture. You can’t do this in your own strength. But with God, you will get through.”
Mindy teaches with every word she speaks. A woman who’s pain is never-ending, but through it, in it – she finds peace, living her life hour by hour, the best she can, “I don’t know that the pain has gotten easier over the past three years. It’s changed. Or maybe I’ve changed. I suppose I’ve learned how to live with it.”
And that is something she is teaching others. Sometimes one person at a time.
Thank you, Mindy. Tomorrow will be the final part of the interview. On life today, how her kids are doing – and how she and her husband made it all work.
(Our previous interviews)