“Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit.” – Bernard Williams
Resilience: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
Five weeks. The amount of time she has been gone, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts, and what feels like a huge age gap between Liv, 9, and Keira, 4. The amount of time it took for the sympathy cards to stop and the text messages to slow. The amount of time it took for me to wonder if people will forget her… or worse, if we will forget her.
Our last field trip together.
I was looking back on an image I took exactly one year ago on a field trip with Lea’s class and thought to myself “I wish I had gone to more field trips. I wish I had been there more.” Then, a parent from her class sent me an album filled with photos and videos of class activities and field trips… and there I was. In almost every single image. I am having trouble remembering those amazing times. The funny, silly, joyful times with her. But the ugly, awful, gut wrenching times? Those moments seem to be seared into my memory and haunt me on a daily basis.
I opened her sock drawer for the first time in five weeks and my eyes fell on all the bright, colorful socks that were stuffed in her top drawer. I quickly slammed it shut and walked out of her room remembering the exact socks she was wearing the day they found the tumor, August 10. There are moments like that one where I push it all out of my brain, not wanting to feel it, or process it, or “deal” with it. There are days I imagine she is at a friend’s house, or at school, or still asleep in her bed. And there are days where her absence is undeniable and hurts more than I have the words to describe. Those days I am having a tantrum on the inside, kicking and screaming, writhing on the floor crying, unable to function. But that is on the inside. One the outside, most of the time, I keep it together in order to go about my day and do what is required of me.
What is required of me grows week by week as life fills with more and more normalcy. For the first time in months I sat on the brightly colored couch across from my leadership coach. We discussed what is next for me, and my business, and how I was doing managing the great big mess. Eyes filling with tears I told her that I feel like the worst parts of me died with Lea. The parts of me that were over-scheduled. The parts of me that felt the need to control everything. The parts of me that put work before family and friends. The parts of me that got upset about things the “small stuff” that doesn’t matter. The hasty parts. The uptight parts. The high-strung parts. The fearful parts.
Fear was an emotion I experienced on an almost daily basis before Lea was diagnosed with DIPG. Then, the thing I was the most fearful of happened… and I survived it. It battered me, it beat me down, it tossed me around, it made me unravel. It also made me face my worst fear as it taught me about bravery and resilience and forced me to take deeper roots.
Storms make trees take deeper roots.
Lea was beautifully different. She was creative, fiery, defiant, and one hundred percent herself. I now stand firmly in who I am and have an unwavering sense of self thanks to her and the perspective she gave me, and so many.
There are only a few tickets left for The Cure Starts Now Fundraiser in Lea’s honor on July 28. Learn more and get your ticket here.