This past weekend was a very busy one for my family and I.
Friday night was my son's prom, an exciting time, a right of passage of sorts, a chance for seniors to let loose after 'making it.' My husband and I watched as our handsome son left for his prom, grateful that he made it this far; excited that he was attending the festivities, and with a sharp realization that now he would be entering fully and completely into the 'adult' world. Just one of many milestones we as parents cherish and tuck away into the treasure trove we keep in our hearts.
Sunday, my youngest grandson was baptized. I watched as my daughter and her husband beamed at their youngest son, as he was prepared to be received into our faith community. I was proud of my growing family and the beautiful experience of being a grandmother. All you grandparents out there fully understand and know what I am speaking of. It is amazing to be part of our children's milestones, but there is an unexplainable pride, when we witness the transformation of our own children through the eyes of our grandchildren.
Saturday, was my special day, I crossed the college stage. I had completed my Certification in Thanatology (the study of death and dying) and was now a college graduate. It was wonderful, exciting, oh I could go on and on; let's suffice it to say I felt really good about what I had finally accomplished. I awoke Saturday morning with an excited energy and an 'I can't believe I really did this' frame of mind. As I showered (a place were many brilliant ideas are often born), I began to think of Rachel, and how she had been all set to return to school to complete her education. The Friday before her death she had called to ask me to get her high school transcripts, I was to fax them to her the following Monday. She was registered and just needed a copy of her transcript, I remember how happy and excited she had been that day.
As this thought bounced around in my head, the tears began streaming down my face. And then it hit me, I knew exactly what I needed to do. 'Rachel,' I said out loud in the shower, 'you are going to cross that stage, you are walking in with me.' As I stepped out of the shower with tears and a broad smile, I now found myself getting ready with a new resolve. I was fulfilling Rachel's dream with the realization of mine. The course I had completed was one I would not have even considered 6 years ago, and here I was now a 'grief facilitator,' someone who can walk besides others in pain. I was here because of the turn of events in my life, because Rachel had placed me where I needed to be - helping others; something she loved to do. Out of personal loss and tragedy, came new hope and life.
Fully dressed, cap and gown draped over my arm and Rachel's photo in my hand, I headed out the door on my way to my graduation ceremony; to say I was beaming, would be an understatement. My classmates knew my story and were happy with my decision to carry Rachel's photo. We were given alumni pins and one of my fellow graduates suggested I use it to pin Rachel's photo to my gown; at first I wasn't sure, then I looked at him and said thanks, what a great idea; and so not only was she with me, now everyone could she her crossing that stage as well. It was perfect. She would be captured in my photo as I crossed the stage.
When it was finally our programs turn to make our way across the stage, I felt as if I had wings. That feeling that you are exactly where you need to be, were you are meant to be, and that every obstacle has helped form the 'you' you are becoming. It is an amazing feeling propelling you forward, moving you to a new potential, to an awareness that everything in life is meant to teach; is meant to strengthen; is meant to form and shape us. That every stumble, every setback, only gives us new resolve to try again, to trust again and to believe that we are better for where we've been. Each scar reminds us of how far we've come, and how much more still lies ahead, and that each turn in the road offers us an opportunity to become more acquainted with the person we are meant to be.
Life does not always play by the rules, and we are not always dealt the cards we need to stay in the game; but somehow we manage to make it. We find ways to use what we have been dealt, giving ourselves the opportunity to find creative, new ways to get back into the game; and we do!
Rachel began the dream, and I simply fulfilled it for her. We both graduated that day, and her and I walked hand in hand across that stage. A mother living out the dream of her daughter, through the very same spirit that had given her the wings as a child to take flight, allowing her to be transformed into the beautiful young woman she had become. The chrysalis transformed into the beautiful butterfly, whose brief time on this earth, transformed the lives of countless others; and still continues to transform my life. Rachel is a very important part of who I am and continues to be a strong presence in my life. I sense and feel her presence in every aspect of my life, a constant reminder that she is near, and holds a very special place in my heart.
Our loved ones are always with us and their love transcends death. It is LOVE that surrounds us and keeps us strong, it helps us heal as we make our way through grief, giving us the courage and strength to grow; to become. Love conquers all and it is love that keeps us going.
Blessings! and until we meet again.