So Am I: life, living, and letting go

So Am I, A Book By Nathan Peterson

A collection of my writings during the 14-month life of our beautiful, terminal daughter, Olivia.

In these pages I share the lessons I learned from Olivia about being truly alive and present in life, even in the midst of fear and uncertainty.

scroll down for a sample chapter ↓

"The perfect combination of authentic heartfelt story and clear lessons for any of us to take and grow from." —Kyle White, author of Wisconsin River of Grace

Olivia had a condition called Trisomy 18 and was deemed "incompatible with life" before she was born. Miraculously, she lived 14 beautiful months during which time she taught profound lessons about what living really is.

Many of us today are experiencing great uncertainty. The lessons in these pages clear a path for hope and healing — not by removing uncertainty, but by inviting us to rest, here and now, where we are. We don't have to wait to live. We can live, now.

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Box set includes a beautiful limited edition 12" vinyl record of songs I recorded while I wrote this book, hand-signed.

I also recorded an album during this time, also called So Am I.

Then, Life (sample chapter)

I don’t think our situation with Olivia is as unique as it seems.

We have a little girl who is terminal. At first we were completely crippled by the news that she would probably die during birth. When she survived birth and then her first week and second week and fourth week, we were crippled by the fact that she would die any day. The extreme rays of beauty that seemingly and surprisingly emitted from her now and again temporarily distracted us from the hell we were living in, just enough to confuse us. Wait - she’s so beautiful. Why is she beautiful? This is supposed to be a disaster. What is this LIFE coming from her? Is she giving US life?? Just for a second, then back to the crippling fear of the knowledge we held.

After week eight we decided it was time to try to live some semblance of a regular life - we started leaving the house a bit, went on a few dates, tried to enjoy the present day since that’s all we really knew we had. We’re in this stage now, on week seventeen. Still mostly crippled by fear, but fighting against it and giving everything we have to live in spite of it.

We’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

Without minimizing our situation, I think it’s worth asking, how is this any different than what all of us are doing every day?

Before Olivia, I worried that my other three kids would die. I worried every time I went to play a gig that the van would crash and I’d leave my kids fatherless. I worried I wouldn’t make enough money and we’d go homeless and my whole family would starve and die. Usually I coped by finding things I could control and hanging out there and dragging my feet on the things that mattered. It crippled me.

We’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

THIS. This is what that line means. It’s not for later when you’re about to die. Today, every day, every one of us is walking through the valley of the shadow of death. It follows us. We all know it’s there. Most of us ignore it, hide from it, avoid it, which cripples us.

We’re all walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

We all know it’s there.

But every now and again we’re hit with a ray of beauty. Wait, why is this beautiful? How is there life here??

THIS. This is what Jesus taught, and what he was. This is the gospel. Not some hell-pass for later, but a ray of beauty in the middle of the shadow of death. "A light has shined in the darkness."

Olivia is that too. She’s a ray of beauty in the darkness. She is to us the same beacon that Jesus is. Hope. Not from the fire of some afterlife hell none of us really understand, but hope for us for today. That WHILE we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will not fear it.

In not fearing it, we become like Olivia, and like Jesus - a beacon of hope - an unexpected ray of beauty in the middle of the shadow of death every one of us is walking through.

Then someone else is surprised by its beauty, just long enough to confuse fear and loosen its hold again.

Then, life.

Olivia is unique - there’s no one like her. But I don’t think our situation is unique. We’re all walking through the valley of the shadow of death. We all have the same impossible choice to make if we want to really live.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear.

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