Almost exactly one year ago today, my world was turned upside down. I never understood how an anniversary date of a tragic event could place someone back in a venerable state of mind as they were that very day until today. I can almost replay the entire day and the days leading up to and that followed October 21, 2013. I debated whether or not to share publically why this date for me but I am doing so in hopes it will make just one small difference.
Please know I am sharing what I am about to share because I believe this issue deserves more awareness. I’ve spent a lot of this past year ashamed. I hope my story can bring comfort and hope for just one person. This no longer needs to be a taboo topic. It effects millions of families every day. Mine just happened to be one of those.
On October 21, 2013, my mother had a mental breakdown while in Florida. Again, I say this out of full respect for my mother because after all she will always be in fact my mother. However, I would not hide the truth if my mom received a cancer diagnosis that day. I think the stigmatism behind mental illness is there because people do not talk about it. This was the start of an ugly year. I lost my mother that day and shortly later had to mourn the loss of my parents' marriage. People sometimes pass judgment when I say I lost my mother that day but I have the grief counseling bills to prove it. I lost the mother who loved me unconditionally and was involved in my day to day life. In fact, the only times I have spent any time with my mother this past year was at the funerals of my uncle and my grandfather.
I could write a book on how this one day changed my life or how ugly this year has been. There’s been so much hurt and sorrow. Some moments the hurt is still there. However, I have already focused on that too much this year. I focused on that so much that it caused me to have crippling anxiety at times. Instead though, I want to do what I set out to do 41 days before the tragic date of October 21, 2013. On my 28th birthday, I decided it was going to be the year of smelling the roses per say. I was going to offer praise to God for something new every day for the next 365 days. I’ve said this before and I will say it again, God knew what was in store for me. He knew how badly I needed Project 28 as I called it. There was going to be so much bad that I had to focus on the good in order to survive.
Tonight as Greyson and I were driving home from dinner, I made him pull over the car so I could take a picture of the sunset. Nothing illustrates my year better than this picture. Beautiful things happen when darkness and light meet just as they did for me this year. I know what Charles Dickens meant when he wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” I never knew some much good and so much bad could co-exist. I think I will always cringe when I initially reflect on this past year but I think I will also quickly remember all the good. It was the year I learned that I have the best support system on this side of heaven. It was the year I was president of MYP and gained so many new and precious friendships. It was the year of great trips. It was the year my relationship with my husband was strengthened. It was the year I learned how to smell the roses even in the midst of storms. Most importantly, it was the year my dependence on God deepened. I have come to fully understand that He is my only constant. He is the only one who will never let me down. Because of my relationship with Him, I have truly discovered that in the end everything will be ok. The darkness may be ugly but the light that comes in these dark times far outweighs it.