This is a post I wrote for my local newspaper called the Tribune – Columbia, MO
“What Doesn’t Kill You, Makes You Stronger”
October has always been one of my favorite months. I enjoy the cooler crisp air, comfortable jeans and sweatshirts. I love the changing of the leaves, October festivals and apples. Excitement fills the air and outdoor activities are a joy. The sun is warm and the air is light. October feels good.
For me though, since October 2004, this month has another meaning – the hardest of my life. October 15, 2004 was the day my son Austin ended up in the hospital with a severe bleed on his brain. It is the day that forever changed my life and who I was. It forever changed my family. My cries forever coat the walls of the University Hospital Emergency Room. It was all so unreal. How could this happen? It is a trauma that lives in my soul. It will never leave me. I have more peace now but I can at any moment revisit that place and time. I really don’t ever want to forget. I want to learn and grow from this experience and I do believe I have but like most journey’s it is usually on-going. It is one step forward and two-steps back. I still have much room to grow and improve.
It has been 8 years since that fateful day and it still haunts me. I still replay it all in my mind. The weeks leading up to it. The many moments that could of lead to stopping the progression of what happened. If only this one thing or that moment would have been different my son would not have had as much damage and would be better today. So many ways this could of been stopped if only… If only we had known. If only someone would have listened. If only someone had figured it out sooner.
Most of us have had a trauma of one type or another. My very first was the birth of my firstborn. My daughter Abby was born at 34 weeks and was in the hospital for 18 days. Being a first time Mom, the whole experience was rather traumatic for me. For about 2 years, thoughts of her birth brought tears to my eyes and sadness in my heart. As Abby grew into a healthy happy child, the trauma of her birth and hospitalization became a distant memory. My heart was able to heal but Austin’s medical issues are ongoing and it’s not so easy to move on.
So this October 15, I will allow myself a small pity party – well after my son’s doctor appointment and he is back at school. I will allow myself to grieve and then I will go about my day as usual. I believe we all need to give ourselves a chance to grieve wether it be a major trauma or a minor disappointment. Allowing our feelings helps us to learn and grow and heal from them. We often give kindness to others but not ourselves. I believe that I need to release my feelings to help the healing process but I don’t want to get stuck there. I need to be kind to myself and then move on. I don’t want my past to totally determine my future. It is a part of me but not all of me.
I have great joy in my son and I love him so but the pain of what happened is etched into the fabric of our lives. They go together. They cannot be separated. But at the same time it does not totally define me.
Please be kind to yourself and allow grief if needed and then use it to become stronger. The song by Kelly Clarkson “What Doesn’t Kill You, Makes You Stronger” is such an inspiration to me. It is so true. We can learn from our trials and tribulation and reemerge stronger.
So while October will remain one of my favorite months – that fateful day of October 15 will always haunt me.