–Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you. I call as my heart grows faint: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.—Psalm 61
When my sister, Kay, was getting ready to leave her 25 year marriage, her soon to be ex-husband shot her 3 times in back of the head. She was walking out the door to go for a hike on her favorite West Duluth Trail. She was making plans for a new life, a better life, a life where she was lifted up, valued, listen to, and loved. This was the life she had always wanted.
“Kim, this time I’m going to leave for good. This time I’m strong enough to make it on my own.”
She didn’t make it out the front door.
The days, weeks, and years that followed were the darkest days of my existence. They were days of sobbing uncontrollably, ceaselessly. They were nights of sleeplessness, nightmares, hopelessness, & the drinking of too much red wine. The pain was excruciating, and to be totally honest, the thought of suicide crossed my mind more than once. I mean, I could become painless if I wanted to. I could become gone if I wanted to. It would have been easy to turn into oncoming traffic or jump off the High Bridge. So damn easy.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t. No. How could I distress my family like that after Kay’s horrific murder? I may have lost my sanity, my dignity, my mind, my religion, but I still had some rational thoughts left.
When I look back on those five years, those mourning years, it’s a blur, a fog, a time of heaviness and heartache, a time of sharp edges and black fangs. I can’t remember the first year. Was my heart beating? Was I even alive? Did you know me back then? Did you know I was dead, too? ( at least, I thought I was )
Perhaps those were the years I grew in the most unexpected ways so I could tell you what I know now.
For example, I’m alive. I survived. I’ve ascended from the bottom of the abyss. It wasn’t easy; I could’ve died a thousand times, I could’ve drank myself to into oblivion, I could’ve drowned inside my own sorrow, I could’ve placed my head inside an oven like Plath or stuffed my pockets with stones like Woolf or wrapped flowing scarves around my neck like Duncan.
I could’ve done so many things. I could’ve ended the pain.
Rather, I’ve decided to embrace it, accept it, incorporate it into my new life. I’ve decided to allow it to become part of me, the part that makes me get up in the morning. My sister would’ve wanted that.
Is there an upside to disaster, death, & darkness?
You recognize you can, even in the blackest, bleakest, shittiest hours– move forward, onward, and towards a different path; a path where you now have two voices to share with the universe.
—-Darling, reader, have you experienced an upside to tragedy? If so, how have you changed?