Updated: May 12, 2020
It’s been too long since I’ve posted and I have no excuse, other than I’ve been busy – but aren’t we all!? What do we all fill our days with anyways? Work, kids, carpools, cooking, cleaning, planning for the future. We do all of this planning for a day when we’ll have time to accomplish our goals, and then suddenly the future is here and we’re still running ragged trying to figure out how to find the time to do stuff.
Well, today I took the time to do stuff. A massage actually. Which I needed because I took the time yesterday to do aerial yoga, which if you haven’t tried it yet - is FANTASTIC, but whewww my shoulders and abs – or what I assume would be abs if I had any - were burning this morning! So, I treated myself to a massage and while I was laying there, my massage therapist was asking about my day. I told her I woke up to see my birth story was published in the Huffington Post UK today and that I was so excited to see my name in such a well known publication! (Link to story here: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/husband-died-giving-birth_uk_5e25762bc5b632117616986f) We started talking about my birth story – which led to talking about losing Brian – which led to talking about grief and what I’ve done to work through it the past year. (It was a 90 minute massage so we had plenty of time to chat) and at one point she asked, “Do you find yourself to be less empathetic than you used to be now that you’ve been through something so traumatic?” I had to think about it for a moment. I’ve been asked a million questions over the past twenty months, but never this one and it isn’t something I’ve considered before. I didn’t have to think about it long, because my answer was “No.” If anything, I find myself to be more empathetic towards people and what they’re going through. She was digging into a knot in my shoulder -and I wasn’t capable of speaking clearly in the moment – one of those hurt so good moments- so I took time to consider her question a little further.
The thing is, I’ve experienced trauma. I lost my husband, my best friend and the father of my children when I was six months pregnant. I crumpled to the floor of an ER and begged the doctor to go back and keep trying – to bring him back to me, that he couldn’t die. I needed him. I screamed and cried on that hallway floor as his dive team, the people who had been on the boat with him that morning -one who had administered CPR to him as he foamed at the mouth in a valiant attempt to save his life – heard the news right alongside me. I had to tell my children, ages one and three at the time, that their dad, their hero, drank too much water and would now be diving forever. Six hours later, on a phone call I’ll remember for the rest of my life, I had to go through a list of his organs, consenting to the donation of his eyes, skin, bones and muscles. And then I had to plan his funeral, I had to move out of our home, off the island of Hawaii, I had to give birth to his daughter without him there, and I’ve had to grieve his loss. This is the worst experience I’ve ever been through and one I hope none of you ever have to live through. However, it could have been much worse. I could have not received answers, I could have not had the support of the Navy, I could have not had incredible friends and family who stepped up to make sure the kids and I were supported and able to make it through.
The stories that have been shared with me in the days, weeks and months since by all of you have been stories of tragedy and chaos, loss and depression, sadness and anger. And to you, these were the worst moments of your entire life. I thought of all of this while on the massage table today and want to share and promote the idea that it’s not a competition of who had it worse. Every time somebody shares a personal story with me, it starts with “I know this doesn’t compare with what you’ve been through” or “I know I shouldn’t be upset because you’ve been through much worse” and to be completely honest, you need to cut yourself some slack. I could say the same thing to somebody who lost their spouse but didn’t have the support of incredible friends and family like I do, or didn’t have access to the resources the Navy has supplied to my family because of Brian’s military service, I could not know what happened in his final moments and have to carry the burden of worrying he was in pain or scared when he took his final breath. So you see, it’s not a competition of who has it worst. The worst day of your life might have been the day you got divorced, or the day you lost a grandparent, a child, a friend. It might be the day you got fired from your job, or the day you were in a bad car accident. Through all of these, you’ve experienced emotional pain and trauma and this is the worst you’ve had to live through. Even if our experiences are different, I understand what it feels like to live through the worst day of my life – just as you do.
After writing this post I hopped on a phone call with a dear friend of mine in Australia who up until losing Brian – I’d lived through the worst experience of my life with. This friend, along with a few others, all lived through a tragedy that claimed the life of a dear friend when we were all only 21 years old. Riding her bike home from work, our friend, Brandie Bailey, was struck and killed by a garbage truck, left to die in the streets of NYC. We didn’t have any answers on how or why or what happened for a long time and that experience changed our lives forever. At twenty-one years old we weren’t equipped to handle such trauma, especially of such a dear friend, roommate, sister and daughter. We were devastated, debilitated. Up until 20 May 2018, that was the worst experience I’d ever experienced and I couldn’t imagine anything as emotionally devastating as that – and then Brian died- and I’ve had to experience a whole new level of trauma. It’s now been fifteen years since that accident, but during our hour facetime call, it was evident for both of us that those scars are still there, we haven’t moved on, but we’ve moved forward and it was only because we had and have the support of each other. All that to say, whatever you’re working through, don’t compare your experience or level of emotional trauma to anyone else. You need to work through it and you need to reach out to those around you to support you.
The only thing that has helped me get to this point, of feeling confident in writing posts like this, of sharing my thoughts and experiences with all of you, is the unconditional feeling of support I receive from each of you after doing so. We should spread this kind of love and support to those around us, regardless of their circumstances. If someone is going through a hard time, let them have that. Let them complain, be upset, come to you and share their experience because sharing that – just as I have these past twenty months with Brian, and these past fifteen years with Brandie– might be what helps get us through it.
I promise I’ll post another update soon about all of the projects the kids and I are working on and what to expect from us soon! Thank you so much for your love and support and if you need a scent to fill your home and relax with, I strongly recommend this Glade Plug-In.