I have just dropped my husband Jeff off at the Harley Davidson dealer so that he could free our Road King from its inactive winter storage. Traveling back home in the right lane of a two-lane road, the red light makes me stop at the busy intersection.
I hear a crunching sound, sense something bad is happening and then I see the street sign on my left break apart and fall directly on the concrete median. The face of a man behind the steering wheel of the car is the next thing I see. The side of his car is inches from ours – swerving after he sends the post flying and continuing to slam into parked cars in the lanes next to ours.
The red lights and siren of the police car are immediate – the timing and place of another helper not requiring me to call 911.
I look over at the car to my left fully aware that they are the luckiest people for narrowly escaping a light pole falling on their car. I roll down my window and say, “WOW, are you okay? It seems today is our lucky day!” We are all fine and as the light turns green we continue towards our destinations, being moved by the rush-hour traffic behind us.
My heartbeat is rapid and all I can do is pray that no one was hurt and that the police were able to stop a bad situation from getting worse. I pull off to a quiet side street to steady myself with deep breathing, driving with a renewed sense of caution when I continue.
But no matter what I do, the scene plays out over and over in my mind.
I remember new details as time goes on, and more questions go unanswered.
Once the shock of the moment subsides, blessings are revealed…
I can’t help but think that this experience has similarities to my grief journey. The day my husband Chris died was an ordinary day, as we performed usual tasks like work and parenting; then life as we knew it came crashing down just like that light post.
Chris was dead, without warning from an accident at work, and I was left feeling like a parked car being slammed by a crazy driver. Seeing his lifeless body, gathering information and notifying loved ones, the scene before me played out for days and months, over and over again.
I wasn’t able to sort through all the emotions and questions that day, so as more time went on more was revealed, taken in and expressed.
Like knowing that I needed to turn off the busy street to just take a breath after my experience the other day, when Chris died I needed to learn self-care in a whole new way. I needed to find healing techniques for my body, mind and spirit so that I could move beyond my loss and drive into my “new normal.”
I also learned which people I could rely on, those willing to listen to my truth and those not afraid of my pain. They became my 911 responders as I mourned my husband, and their timing was perfect.
After the loss of a significant person in your life, nothing looks the same. Shock blurs your vision; your mind can only process small bits of information at a time, and your heart pounds feeling ready to break.
But, with the gift of time (often longer than you expect) and after doing your “grief work,” if you look for them, you will find blessings. You just might see that people, places and things all came together to support you in your darkest hour.
Be bold, take a deep breath and drive on…