Easter Sunday 2005 was expected to be like all other traditional Easters…church in the morning followed by the family gathering at my parents. We had anticipated this holiday to be extra special because our mother had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and not knowing the severity, we treasured each moment.
Unfortunately the day did not unfold as planned. Tragically, the day started with an early morning phone call to my sister giving the news that her 23 year old daughter had been in a terrible car accident. This being the second catastrophic news to our family, we were almost paralyzed with our reaction. The phone call only conveyed the urgency of getting to the hospital as soon as possible as time was essential.
Not knowing what to expect, we arrived at the hospital to find my beautiful niece in a comatose state due to a brain injury. Needless to say, we were devastated. We thought the result of the near fatal car accident and nursing a cancer patient would complete our share of tragedy for awhile to our once strong, trauma free family. With hearts broken and minds spinning with disbelief, we ask ourselves what more can happen? A few months later we got the answer to that question.
Thanksgiving Day 2005 was expected to be a little different that year. With my mother still battling cancer and my niece being in a semi-comatose state, our true joy and thankfulness had waned a bit. Although we approached the holiday season with heavy hearts, we focused on our faith and counted our blessings. After all, we still had everyone present at the dinner table when we all held hands while my dad said a beautiful prayer, giving thanks for all the blessings that had been bestowed upon us. That beautiful prayer was just 48 hours away from the last time we would all be together.
Two days later, my 21-year-old son was killed instantly in an automobile accident. There are no words in the Webster dictionary to describe the devastation my family felt. Memories of the next few months are fragmented in my mind.
Learning to live with the dramatic changes in our lives took work. We couldn’t search for answers because there weren’t any. So we had to plow through the pain with what we had. Faith, Hope, and Love. My sister and I relied on our faith in God to help us through. My mother’s cancer temporarily went into remission long enough for her undying love help God comfort her two daughters. Sadly the cancer returned and she passed away 17 months after my son’s accident. My niece passed away 3 years later. During our journey through grief, our faith stood strong and hope was our guide.
My sister and I quickly learned that coupled with faith, hope was the lifeline for the bereaved. It took hope to see the ray of light from total darkness. Hope guided us through the depth of our pain. We totally depended on hope to help us understand how life could possibly go on with a shattered heart. Prayer provided our hope. As we learned to adjust, we realized we had choices. Our beautiful spirit could either die with our loved one or we could embrace their love and live for both. We chose to live.
For me, it wasn’t easy at first. I had to find my way back to life. Not only did I lose my beautiful son, mother and niece, but I had also gone through a divorce. Grief was my middle name. I had to fight hard to get some resemblance of me back. And I did. Through the grace of God, and hope, I can now say I’m living again, delightfully. Although at times it can still be challenging, I have found a way for my life to feel gratifying and meaningful. I have found the gift of giving is very rewarding to my soul. I find that when I give…be it my words, time or money…my heart mends a little. I find that giving is therapy for the broken-hearted, regardless of the situation. Whether it be lending an ear, holding a hand or providing some form of hope, I know from experience it can pierce the pain to see the light. And seeing the light is essential when walking through darkness… because one thing I know for sure…life does go on.