Surviving Is Sometimes Enough--Just Keep Fighting
Surviving. Sometimes it really is enough and all we are asked to do.
Don't get me wrong, I am the last person who wants to merely survive. I want to thrive! A life mantra of mine derives from Maya Angelou's quote on the subject in fact. However, this weekend I was reminded that surviving is a sign of strength. Resilience. Perseverance.
To provide some context to readers who do not know this fact about me: I am a survivor of loss from suicide. I said it. A survivor. In this space, I do not thrive. Regardless of how hard I try, I simply cannot. My brother completed a suicide in December 2014, and friends, it feels like yesterday. And never as some days I can ignore it happened. And then like today as if the reality is punching me in the gut again. The swell of emotions that occur from a loss like this is indescribable and mostly only survivable.
This weekend was his second daughter's graduation party, and the occasion called for me to be present at the place he called home after not having been there since his death. The space he spent his most intimate moments. His dream landscape in an unassuming lot filled with what he loved. Family. Horses. Cars. The place he spent building dreams. A family. And also the place his life ended.
I hate that part.
But I LOVE my niece. And she deserved me to be present and strong. My sister-in-law and nieces have bravely forged forward in the days, weeks, months, and years that have spanned the time since our shared loss. They have gone beyond merely surviving to thriving in this space. They have made it their own. Embraced its quirks, loved it's fertility of soil in a huge garden, created a haven, and fostered the best parts of this space.
I owed it to her and the rest of my family to be strong. Resilient. Break through the fear. And pain. And strangling sadness of his utter absence. And to my daughters who remain blissfully unaware of how their uncle died. May they enjoy the innocence of a lack of knowledge as long as they can from this only survivable reality until their little minds are ready to try to process what my fully developed one still struggles to endure.
Here is the crux of this message in this post: I did it. I survived. And I am still fighting.
Fighting through the doubling over pain when I see an image of my brother at his best--as a loving father---on the graduation board. Fighting through the pain of being in the space where he struggled for his last breath. Fighting through the fact that his boisterous laugh was not there to match mine in the crowd. Fighting through the image of a barn that was once there that no longer exists. And the memories that flood in. Fighting through the grief that remains after 3.5 years of this reality.
I struggled with posting about this message. Sharing this vulnerably and the pain that it might cause my dear family to share it. However, I know I am supposed to do it. To be a voice to #RISE and shares this reality. Because there are others struggling with the same feelings I fight to survive through.
And to share the message of hope that I cling to on the most challenging of days: Before I left for the day, God showed me that He heard my cry. He gave me this beautiful message of our cowboy at the gate before I ventured into this pain.
He held me through it all and shared the blessing of my brother's children highlighting all the best parts of him. Selflessly sharing their love of riding and horses with my own children. God gave me the bittersweet gift of witnessing the passing on of my brother's best legacy through his beautiful daughters' hearts.
And that is what prompted me to finally write this piece tonight.
Life goes on. Regardless of whether we want to sink into our sadness or rise out of it and share messages of hope or not. It will keep moving on. And sometimes surviving is all we can do. But we need to remember that is enough sometimes. And there is always pain and promise to hold at once. We just need to keep fighting.