In looking back over the past 11 years since my daughter’s death I’ve spent time reflecting and writing about who I am. Who I was. Who I will become. For some odd reason I thought that changing my hair color would allow me to disconnect from the mourning mother I’d become. That moving away from the heartbreak of a home I lived in would make me feel better. Uprooting my life and starting over would help me heal.
What I have found out is that grief goes where you are and stays with you despite my efforts to chase it away. It chases you down relentlessly and demands to be reckoned with. Writing was and continues to be the vessel for me to do that. I used to wrestle grief to the ground using my faith and my internal desire to prove I could flip it on its side and put it in a submissive state.
Oh the lessons grief has taught me over these many years. Yet I still keep making the same ole mistakes. Keep changing the image, rewriting my life, making something out of nothing. All important achievements when you are normally pursuing a career or life goal. But running from grief – it just does not work.
The scenario below is just one example of how I thought changing something about me would take me to a place I thought I wanted to go.
When Brit died I was a red-head, athletic and into fitness. Then her death took the wind out of my sails and I just did not care. After a few months of serious mourning I attempted to resume some semblance of a normal life. I decided living in my house was more of a detriment than a healthy thing. I packed up my home, put it up for sale and moved back to my hometown of Indy. After a year or so I got the bright idea to dye my hair platinum. I think it was one of my first real efforts at squashing who I was before. Running away from who I was in my past life.
Over the next eight or so years I stayed a platinum blonde and liked it. It was long, it was short and spiky, it was fun and sporty. For the most part. But last year there was something brewing in my spirit that I wanted to be a red-head again. Remembering that I truly liked being a red-head. I would sit and look at old pictures and think “I need to be a red-head again” So the transition began and there I was a red-head again.
I looked somewhat like I did in 2006 just a few more wrinkles and a few more pounds. In the whole transition after Brit’s death, I lost my mojo for athleticism. When I looked in the mirror – I thought I’d see the old me – but what I realized is I was seeing the old me through the lens of a hurting heart. I thought I wanted my old self back but what I really was seeking was my old life. A huge epiphany for me.
I realized that as much as I tried, I will never be the old me. Because the old me died the moment my daughter took her last breath on October 13th, 2006 at 6:55 am. That was a shot to the heart and as I stood in front of the mirror, I understood it one morning that I had to stop trying to go back. I needed to go forward and be who I am today. The growth from that moment took 11 years to achieve. God has been so patient with me. My family, my friends all have been patient with me. Standing by me supporting me and allowing me the space and support I needed to become who I am today.
I’m now back to a platinum blonde with short spiky hair that has a hint of lavender. It’s a reflection of my spirit. I’m different and unique. I am a right-brained, creative woman in a left-brained corporate world. And I love it. It challenges me on every level. I feel like I’m making a difference, well most days I do.
So all of this self discovery I went on just put me off track. I put my faith in God who set me upright after Brit’s death and helped me dust myself off and put one foot in front of the other. He put me back on track and now my job is to complete His plan. My role is to be the hands and feet of Jesus and to help newly bereaved parents in any way I can by sharing my story. I also need to complete something that has been weighing on me for so long and that is to complete my book on grief.
Lastly I want to start a foundation to send kids diagnosed with Crohn’s disease to Camp Oasis every year. It is very expensive camp and many parents cannot afford to pay the tuition. But the joy and acceptance that occurs at this camp for these kids can be life changing for them. It was for my girl.
The lesson is all of this is: you can’t go back because that is not the plan; the plan is to move forward, share, love, support, walk along side of and make a difference on this earth.
Until next time,