Tuesday / October 25 / 2011
Why you should process the pain of tragedy
For the first time in 25 years, I spent October 24th reflecting on the car accident as the accident, rather than my accident.
Early in the day, I penned a blog post about how that day affected the hearts of an entire community. As I read the post, I realized it was the first time I communicated the accident not as the driver, but as though I was just anyone in the affected community. The sentiment was there regardless of whether or not I was even in the car.
I’ve spent the majority of my life on this side of the accident, primarily in states outside New York. Moving back home has been… well, challenging. I’d be lying if I said it’s not a struggle living in the place where it all happened.
For the first time in 25 years, I spent October 24th with a smile in my heart, celebrating life.
I took the day off from work and allowed myself the freedom to remember in whatever way my heart desired. No plans. Just pure, raw, organic emotion.
The air was warm for an October day in the Adirondacks as I drove over the windy mountain road. I visited Rockwell Falls, spied a beautiful doe, walked across the Bow Bridge, and took time to relish the smells of Fall.
I wore the mother’s ring my daughter gave me, to remind me of the precious children I’ve had the opportunity to love and raise.
I thanked my cherished friend Denise for saving my life.
As the sun hung low and the clouds invited rain, I visited the cemetery where Dan and Tina are buried side by side. The cool raindrops mixed with my hot tears as I stared at their headstones. So final. Like exclamation points at the end of two lives.
And I remembered.
I remembered their laughter, their smiles, and our many inside jokes – thankful for the time we had together. I will forever be connected to Dan and Tina. They shared my life at a time when I needed them. I hope I did likewise for them.
Being back “home” has been therapeutic for me and I’m thankful to my mentor, counselor, and friend, Pat Henel, for helping me unearth my newfound freedom.
As much as I had thoroughly processed the accident over the years – [not only looking out the window, but sticking my head completely outside and looking around everywhere] – Pat gave me the gift of realizing there was more than one window in the house. She enabled me to grasp freedom and remove the heavy yoke of self-imposed, teenage guilt.
If I can encourage you in just one thing today, it’s to process the pain. No matter how difficult, fight the battle. Tragedy doesn’t get to win unless you let it. Give yourself the gift of exploring your inner you. Seek the help you need. You deserve it.
And you’re worth it.