one day

She was still, her hands in her lap. Tears streaked her face as she told me her story about loss and aching sadness, loneliness that met her everywhere she went. The sun didn’t shine for her anymore. Life was too much, hard and hollow. “I’m trying to fight, to have hope. But, I can’t. I don’t know how to do this anymore. My family is gone.”

I had told my story on a stage that evening to hundreds of people. 20 minutes of how my life fell apart and how I picked up the pieces. Afterward men and women made their way to me and shared their stories of fallen pieces. Some spoke haltingly, the words stuck in their throats. Other losses spilled out fast, fast. My sister, my baby, my husband. Blindsided by tragedy. They lifted their heads. They wanted to know. “When did it get better for you?”

I couldn’t give them a definite answer. There wasn’t a timeline. I just knew that one day I began to feel better, lighter. Sorrow didn’t disappear, but joy found me. I could laugh, a body-shaking laugh, and I felt that joy and sorrow could exist together, side by side. I didn’t have an explanation of how or why, only that it was true. One day it wasn’t only about what I had lost, but what I had learned. One day I didn’t wake up and wish I could return to the numbness of sleep and shut out a world I didn’t want to be a part of. One day I made peace with my scars and saw them as a map of what I had fought for and how far I’d come.

As we sat across from each other, one by one, knees to knees, sharing heartache and hope, I told them it is possible to get to the other side where the pain isn’t as wide, so deep. The only way to get there is to go through. You did not ask for what happened, but you are capable. You cannot hear one more person talk about ‘the journey’ without growing nauseous, yet you go on. You fight because your life is worth living. You find strength you didn’t know you had. It surprises you, this strength. You will carry it with you and one day you’ll give your strength to someone who needs it. You hang on because you are loved. Have hope even though you’re afraid. You have days where you are angry, so angry it blurs your vision and crushes your chest, but one day it won’t be anger that fuels you. There is more for you than this. Because you’re not a victim. You’re a survivor.

swept up

in my new nephew Brennan! I just want to squeeze him. All the time. This sweet photograph was taken by my friend Lesley.

37 thoughts on “one day

  1. Kerstin @ Auer Life

    Stunning. Heartbreaking. Hopeful.
    I was on Facebook to update our Home Hardware page and saw your blog in my timeline – so of course I had to come and look. I’m so glad I did, even though I’m sitting here in my office crying now.
    Don’t we all have our struggles?
    Sometimes I think it would be easier to just leave everything behind, close the door and just do my own thing. I mean just go to work and then go home and not interact with anyone but my family. No more Facebook, Twitter etc. I struggle with not having enough time for that and rather not particiate at all and really missing the interaction.
    I know, petty little problems… I’ll figure it out one day.
    In the meantime I am always happy to read what you wrote and I can’t wait to hold your book in my hands!

  2. tara pohlkotte

    yes.yes.yes. this is the power of giving our stories to one another. the way we speak right into the heart of another story. one that is just starting to lay out. I find this all the time in the family grief groups I facilitate too. I wish people knew how truly powerful it is to give of our stories. ourselves. you are hope wrapped up in beauty my friend. so proud of you.

    1. heidi

      Yes, the storytelling of it all. That’s what got me that evening. I often begin my speeches saying that everyone has a story and I talk a little about the kind of stories we want. You’re right – there is something powerful and beautiful in the sharing of each others stories and lives. It’s the best part of giving speeches – the after – where I get to listen to people tell me where they’ve come from and what they’re facing. It’s very inspiring and moving.
      I really like you.

  3. Alexandra

    You know, yes.

    How I know this, yes.

    Yes, tell our stories, but do NOT become our stories. They are part of us, and if we use them well, they can be our gift to others.

    strange, but that can work this way.

    the way I get strength from knowing your story, Heidi. I think of you, and your words. I let them weigh on me, and I say them so every word is understood by my heart, mind, and soul. I read your stories, and close my eyes. And I think of the POWER inside that little body of yours.

    You could birth a supernova.

    I love you.

    1. heidi

      Okay, I cried a little when I read this. You are so, so good to me, Alexandra….I hardly know what to say. Love, love you.

    1. heidi

      Thank you, Stacie. You are so sweet. I’ve missed yeah write! Life has become busy and I find it hard to keep up with everything, so I had to let some things go. For now.

      1. that cynking feeling

        As soon as I finished reading your post, I thought the same thing as Stacie-you should link this to the Yeah Write grid!
        I understand if you don’t–it’s good to know which things you can let go of and which things you need to focus on.

  4. Jessica

    This is absolutely perfect and I feel like I think these same thoughts but because of a different journey, thank you for putting them to such eloquent words.

    1. heidi

      Thank you so much, Jessica. You are just so lovely.
      I thoroughly enjoyed that FB banter yesterday and I agree…every creepy van must have creepy curtains. 😉

  5. OpinionsToGo

    Well, this turned out to be my lucky day…two new posts to read…two beautifully written new posts.

  6. Julia

    I love very piece of this. There is no timeline of grief, and no end of feeling the devastation of a tragedy, but there is a time, a hard to pin point time, when it becomes manageable; just a piece of your story instead of all of it. You are always stronger than you know.

  7. steph

    I hope the Boston families of those injured, and the injured themselves find their way to this. You know of what you speak.. Haunting and lovely. Your nephew’s name is Brennan – that’s my last name – are we distantly related? I hope so.

  8. Kate

    Reading your blog for the first time today. What an incredible post. Thanks for sharing your story… I look forward to reading more.

  9. Lance

    How did I miss this gorgeous post? He’s adorable.

    Our stories are what makes our experience valuable to others. Thank you.

    1. heidi

      Hey! That was a nice-to-see-you hey.
      “Our stories are what makes our experience valuable to others.”…yes…wholehearted yes.

  10. Karen

    Thank you. I just found this today. I sit with tears streaming. This is why hope exists – you have captured it perfectly. Absolutely perfect.

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