Yesterday, I shared a significant portion of “my story” and my heart.
It was hard.
You can imagine if you read it, that it makes a person feel quite vulnerable to so openly discuss such painful and personal details.
When I saw the deluge of support and heard from others who’d been in abusive situations, I was reassured in my decision to tell you.
You know what happened now, but I’d be remiss if I only told you about what I refer to as “That Day” but didn’t tell you about the days after. Out of the pain, trauma, and having the very bedrock of our lives shaken, were born some beautiful things, beauty from ashes indeed.
In the hours and days after, there were decisions to be made, many decisions. Imagine that for a second: You’ve just endured something quite horrible and now you’re expected to have your wits about you to make major decisions like:
- What to tell my babies and how.
- Donate organs?
- What about the funeral?
- Where will we live?
- How will I pay for health insurance?
I’ll tell you what happened: People showed up. And that, my friends, has been a major contribution to our survival: God. And people showing up.
An ordeal like we experienced brings you to your knees. You come to the end of yourself and the small part of you that you can muster is carefully reserved for tending to your children, comforting them, making sure they are taken care of and loved on, and that everything else possible remains “normal” in an effort to restore their sense of security. And that’s what I did. The rest? That’s where God and good people took over.
Sometimes, I wonder why we don’t give over to His will a whole lot easier and more frequently instead of waiting until we’re beaten down to the point we no longer have a choice but to allow Him full control.
Family showed up, literally. My siblings and best friend came immediately, providing us a place to stay, made phone calls, hugging my children, sorting out details with me, holding my hand during uncomfortable doctor visits, sitting around a table at the funeral home making those all-important selections about music and caskets, which suit and what tie.
Brothers handled the house. I never before knew and pray I never need to again, that there are legitimate crime scene clean-up crews, haz mat suits and all. Thanks to my brothers, I don’t know much more.
My sister and best friend stayed near, almost the entire time those first days.
People surrounded us. They formed a protective shield from rumors and too much attention. Some helped select outfits. Someone else did my daughter’s hair for her final goodbye to her daddy.
Teachers and principals, classmates and buddies showed up to make sure my kids knew there were thought of and loved.
I couldn’t recount possibly all the acts of selfless love and kindness sprinkled over us. I’m quite sure there were things taken care of behind the scenes I’ll never know about. People met needs before we realized we even had those needs.
I cried yesterday, on the anniversary, but not many sad tears. They weren’t quite happy either, but grateful tears. When I saw the outpouring of love and support on these posts and remembered those days when we were so well cared for, I once again felt deeply humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude.
Our story now has become a little bit a part of the stories of others. Some remember right where they were and what they were doing when they learned the news. Others were touched by that day simply because they love us or even just heard about us and offered a prayer and empathy. Tragedy has an unfortunate ripple and its reach is far and wide.
The healing and going forward is by far the most important part of our story. And for me, that looks different than it does for my children. They grieve a different loss than I do.
“How do you keep going?”
“I keep waiting for you to just collapse.”
“How could you ever consider dating again?!”
“Why didn’t you leave?!”
Each of those things was said to me along the way. I’d like to share tomorrow one more chapter of this journey with you, the one where I’ll answer those questions and maybe it will satisfy some things you wonder about as well. This may give you the most hope of all.