Understandably, I was devastated. In fact, I was pretty well crushed for a long, long time. And then, for years afterwards I was still vulnerable to a sudden rush of sadness that could be triggered in the most unusual ways.
This year, however, when I sat down to write this tribute piece to my daughter, I gotta confess — I got nothing.
I sat there . . .
. . . and sat there
. . . and sat there.
And I got nothing.
It’s not that her absence on her birthday saddens me.
It’s that it doesn’t.
Grace’s death no longer stings. I can’t remember the last time I was overcome with a significant wave of grief. How can this be?
I’m not avoiding it. I don’t feel empty. I don’t feel numb. I don’t feel weepy, sad, or jealous of other mothers who got to have daughters (well, maybe I do still have a bit of that.)
What I feel is WIZENED.
When Grace died, I DETERMINED that her life would NOT be meaningless. I INSISTED on that. I just didn’t know what that meant or how that would happen.
I certainly didn’t imagine that I would someday launch a business and website called “Life After Tampons” that’s primary aim was to help other women live more fully and with greater joy.
These days, I am able to put the death of my child in perspective of my whole life. I think I am able to do this because I allowed her death to be not just a story of sorrow, but a story of triumph.
When tough times come, you either get bitter. Or, you get better. (click to tweet)
I resolved long ago, that my children would have a healthy, fully functioning mother. And, healthy, fully functioning mothers CHOOSE TO HEAL.
They choose to LAUGH.
They choose to SERVE.
They choose to SHOW UP.
They choose HOPE.
They CHOOSE TO TRIUMPH!
Because I made the decision to triumph, I knew that my bereavement process would have to end with strength.
So, I resolved to find gratitude alongside my sorrow. Looking back, I see so many gifts of Grace. Here are some of the gifts that could only come to me because Grace lived – and died.
- I found my roar.
- Because I found my roar, I no longer allowed others to hurt me, use me, walk all over me.
- I lost my fear of authority figures. Completely. I think if God him(her)self walked in this office right now, I’d just say hello and ask about his day.
- Because I lost my fear of authority figures, I learned how to ask for help from people who previously intimidated me.
- Because I learned how to ask for help from people who previously intimidated me, I’ve been able to grow in my craft.
- And, because of this, I am able to show up for Beautiful You.
The list goes on and on. There are gifts that came to my boys. For one thing, the eldest wouldn’t even be here if Grace had not been born too early to survive. I found true friends, I learned a ton about a ton, and then, ultimately, I began this work for you and us.
In fact, if you have been helped, even one little bit, by my work here at Life After Tampons, you have been helped because Grace Boykin Williamson lived for 32 minutes on March 6, 1992.
Truly, I could not have brought you any of this without the wisdom that came from that terrible tragedy in my life.
That means that someone who lived for less time than your last lunch break was able to make a real and lasting difference for THOUSANDS of women all over the world.
And then, think of Beautiful You. Imagine what you could create if you learned how to transform your life adversities into wisdom, triumph, and hope so that you could leave a lasting impact on this world.
Okay, even as I’m writing this, I just got a crazy-ass idea. Would you like me to show you exactly how I was able to move through this loss and find the wisdom underneath? Is that too cheesy? Anyway, the idea just came to me. I haven’t created such a program yet, but I certainly would if enough of you thought it would be helpful.
If that idea resonates with you, go here and leave your contact information. And let me know what you would most need.
(Well, that was awkward. I certainly didn’t mean to turn Grace’s tribute piece into a workshop idea. )
But, maybe my own fear is getting in the way here. Maybe the next right part of Grace’s legacy is to show up and serve in this way. Maybe a BUNCH of you are kinda limping along carrying your unhealed wounds into today, tomorrow, and the next.
Maybe I just need to get out of my head (where I’m worrying about what you think of Beautiful Me) and into my heart (where I KNOW who I am and what I’m made of).
For today, though, I suppose the main thing is that I’m a mother of a daughter who I only got to know for a very short time but who also changed my world in countless beautiful ways.
Today, I don’t feel mournful. I feel like celebrating. Will you help?
How We’re Using Our Wisdom Circle Comments Today
Way #1: If you’re game, I’d love it if you helped me celebrate. I’d love to hear your stories of adversity and triumph in the comments section.
Way #2: Also, if you would like me to create a special program for you around the idea of adversity and triumph, let me know in the comments below what you most need. And join the advance team here.
Finally, I leave you with these words: A very wise man shared this with me shortly after Grace’s death. I was so upset that Grace’s life wouldn’t matter, that there was no one to even remember that she lived.
Anyway, when I told my friend Don about my worry, he said this to me:
Jennifer, don’t you understand? Grace’s eternity is that YOU are changed forever. And, from this moment forward, every thing you do and every life you touch will be DIFFERENT because your life was touched by Grace.
Grace lives on, Jennifer, through you.
And so it is.
P.S. Here is the link to get advance notice about a possible program about loss, legacy, and triumph.
photo: flickr, pink sherbet photography