There are some things that you can never imagine going through until you do. There are some things that, if they were written in a book and you read them, you would think, “There is no way I could make it through that. It would be the end of me.” There are some things that change you forever, erasing what used to be, abruptly placing a “closed forever” sign on the road you had been traveling just moments before that thing happened.
And when one of those things happens to you, it is surprising to discover that it doesn’t actually kill you. That life does go on. People keep moving forward – you keep moving forward, somehow, some way. Couples get together, get married, create babies, birth babies. Some couples get divorced. Other couples fight for their right to get married. People get fired; others get hired. Some get promoted, others leave of their own accord. New cars, new homes, new classes, new friends, new lovers, new dreams, new businesses, new diets, new health plans, new goals, new places… new… new… new…
How does all the new keep happening when your best friend has just lost her daughter, son-in-law, grandson-to-be, and five grand-dogs? Isn’t that one of “those things” that puts a stop to your own life?
“They’re dead, Angie! Dead. Their truck… they died. Kel. Garrett. Sage. They’re… dead. All of them. Oh my god. They’re DEAD!”
I will never forget the sound of those muffled words and the gasp and wailing sobs that seemed to come from the distance. She had dropped the phone in agony, after screaming at me, “They’re DEAD!” because she wasn’t able to understand the news she was receiving, the news that she was sharing. I listened for a brief second to her utter despair, feeling confused, disoriented, and scared, hoping that I hadn’t heard what she said, having no idea how what she was saying could ever be true and then the phone clicked and my head filled with the silence and then a howl of unimaginable grief. It wasn’t mine. It was hers. An eight hour drive away from me and I could feel, hear, and see her shattering into a million pieces, falling apart into the surreality of the news.
Oh. my. god… This can’t be happening.
To this day, I still have a sensory feeling of what it was like to receive that call from my best friend. I can close my eyes… no… I don’t even have to close my eyes to picture it. It’s just there like some haunting apparition. I feel the horror of the news as it exploded in my senses.
It’s all too much! There is no way that I heard her correctly! This IS NOT happening! My rational mind argued with Jen’s words. She has GOT to be mistaken. No! They’re having a baby next week! They’re planning a wedding! NO! NO! NO!
Tears sprang down my face, but I didn’t know why. Why am I crying?! This is all just a confusing mistake. We’ll find out that this all didn’t happen.
Because… really… things like this don’t ever happen. I’ve never heard of a young couple, their unborn child, and their five dogs all being killed in a car accident. There was no way it was real because it was just too much to be real. NO! This just ISN’T possible!
But I cried. I cried because deep down inside I knew that something this ghastly couldn’t be made up. Something this life-altering, this surreal couldn’t be anything but real. And I cried because my best friend had just lost her daughter, son-in-law, grandson-to-be, and five grand-dogs.
It really was too much!
Still, to this day, when I look at pictures of them or hear a song that reminds me of Kel or Jen shares a story, I find myself surprised that they are dead. I still haven’t been able to come to terms with the vast magnitude of the accident itself. I mean, really! What force decided that three humans and five dogs had to go that day, all at once? Isn’t there some sort of accounting system that would tell the Gods and Angels that that was far too much and it was going to tip the scales of balance?
Thing is… was it?
For those of us who are still here on earth, tripping over our bruised hearts and falling occasionally upon scuffed up knees, it may seem like too much. For me, even though I am still taken aback by this horrible, most shocking twist of any plot ever, I see the delicious beauty that is in it, as well.
They all went together. There is such joy and love in that knowing.
They felt no pain. It was fast.
Sage had a chance to live, was born perfectly healthy, and chose to leave with his parents.
The kindness of strangers surrounded them at the scene of the accident in blankets, gentleness, care, presence.
The story united people in Love for a long time and still continues to. People from all over the world.
Love poured into Home Base in notes, calls, messages, posts, cards, flowers, food, money from every continent, from strangers, from those who had only $5 to give and they gave it because they felt moved to give it, to honor the memory of these kids whose young lives had started a tsunami of love. They gave their last $5 and, on our end, we felt the impact of that loving gift, knowing that it was their widow’s mite.
And that is just some of the beauty I experienced that first week.
Since then, I have witnessed Jen continue to grieve and be fully alive. I have seen her cry her way through sleepless nights and get up to face the dawn. I have seen her go through boxes, touching items that her daughter had once touched, rubbing her fingers along the surface if only to connect with something that Kelsey once touched. I have supported her in packing up all the new baby stuff, donating clothes and diapers, deciding where the furniture would go. I have seen her share her Kelsey with others, respecting their own form of grieving, spreading compassion and love, embracing them when they are falling down. I have seen her move with life, smile as she wept, and miss her daughter with an ache that cannot be described. I have seen her crumble when proud grandparents post photos of their newborns. I have listened as she cried for what may have been, while being fully present for what now is. And day by day by day she has chosen to walk the path that she has taught for so many years. She has lived Everyday Joy in the middle of the worse possible grief. I have seen her decorate that “closed forever” sign, bid it farewell, and leave that street without a glance over her shoulder to venture down the more purposeful path she discovered in the dark depths of life after the death of her loved ones.
And, for me, I have discovered my love of supporting others in whatever way I can, employing my gifts to bring forth whatever it is they need in that moment, being there to hold them up, embrace them, create for them, be a pivot point for them, listen to them, and hold sacred space for healing. My “closed forever” sign went up near the end of that first week and it did so when the tender awareness of who I really am began to dawn in me. Slowly, reverently, I remembered myself and, without looking back, I walked away from that closed road and began anew.
Dreams that used to be important to me became frivolous and slid away into the space left when my heart broke with Jen’s and what has emerged is an understanding of what is truly significant to me, what my soul longs to experience, and a gentle knowing of my divine nature, my divine right. I revealed strength and wisdom that I had never witnessed in myself. I garnered tenacity, patience, and trust unlike any I have ever had in my life. While I have always delighted in my daughter’s presence, the last 365 days have deepened that, shifted that into an acknowledgment of her extraordinary strength and her purpose, developing into an abiding appreciation for the blessing of her in my life and a knowing that, in one flash, life changes. So I cherish it.
While there are some things in life that you would think they are just too horrible to ever survive, I have discovered that in those very things, there is unimaginable beauty and breathtaking bliss. Allowing myself to go all the way into this experience has shown me that between utter sorrow and utter bliss, there is no difference. They are one in the same.
Life after death is pretty surreal. But, boy! It is also incredibly, crystal-clearly real.
To read more about the love story of Kel and Garrett, visit their website at: HisSoulAndMine.com
I always welcome your thoughts, questions, and comments.
Feel free to jot down what you’re thinking in the comment box below.