Sunday, December 1, 2013

Reflecting on the journey

It appears that week after week, I get to Sunday with the same thought: Whew…what a week it was! And yet, lately, that seems to be the reality of my life. Last week at this time, I was drinking a cup a coffee and getting ready to leave for Mass, excited about the holiday weekend to come, and full of joy. Of course, those emotions changed quickly when I received the call about my cousin’s accident and sudden death. What was supposed to be a joyful week turned into one of sadness, and yet, there were also moments of joy and peace as I reflected on the many blessings in my life and enjoyed the support and company of family and friends.  It will take weeks…perhaps months…for me to completely process the accident and all that it means to me, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the “journey” aspect of my trip out of town for the funeral.

Bridget’s funeral liturgy was beautiful, a fitting tribute to a lovely young woman. The church was packed; the homily was uplifting; the music was comforting; and the flowers were a beautiful reminder of the beauty that will continue to blossom.  There was so much pain and sadness there in the two days of wake/funeral and the church was full of people coming in and out all day for the wake the day before. Each person there was grieving in his/her own way, and brought his/her own ‘story” and “baggage,” if you will. Bridget was adopted by my cousin when he married her mother when Bridget was a child. For nearly 20 years, Bridget was his daughter and he built a family which included 2 other siblings. His grief was completely overwhelming.  Bridget’s biological family came from Indiana. They, too, were hurting, but had another whole set of emotions; regret likely at the top of the list.  Her fiancé, Nick, was driving the vehicle. He has been Bridget’s love for 9 years and they were planning to marry. My heart broke for him because it appeared that he was alienated in his sorrow and didn’t have a lot of support. Some appeared to blame him for this tragedy. His guilt over the accident has nearly crippled him and he is completely overcome and uncertain about his future. My other cousins also had their own issues. They were with Bridget at the wine festival that very night and had left the event at about the same time. It could have easily been one of them that was involved in the accident. Others were left wondering, “Why did this have to happen”, especially those without a deep faith. Some were in shock; others were in denial. Throw in Thanksgiving and it just contributed to the mourning.

Yet…each person had this is common: our life will NEVER be the same as a result of this. Some will make different choices; some will cherish the gift of life in a new way; some will change their own behavior as a result of this. One thing is for certain: This event has changed our life completely and we will never be the same as a result. What we do with it…how it affects our quality of life….how we change our thinking and our behavior, good or bad, is yet to be determined, and ultimately is up to each individual. Hopefully, in time, we will all become better people as a result of knowing and loving Bridget.

On the drive to my sister’s house after the funeral, I couldn’t help but think about all the “stories” and all the people that were at the funeral. Each of them made a trip for the same purpose; to pay tribute to Bridget but each came from different places. Some had a long way to travel and the journey was long and difficult; others lived close and it was not much of a trip. Some came with a large group of family and friends; others, like me, traveled alone. Each had their own set of “emotional baggage” that they brought with them and were coming from different places mentally, physically, and spiritually. Each had to process their grief in their own way; what works for one will not necessarily work for another. There were all ages represented there; all faiths, all walks of life. Most were there to find strength from each other and to support each other at this difficult time.

I couldn’t help but think that there are many similarities in our group. We are all working for the same purpose: a journey to better emotional and physical heath, and wellness. We each approach our personal journeys with our own set of emotions and baggage. We each come with our own hopes and for our own reasons. Some have a very long road ahead to reach our goals; for others the length of time required to meet goal is very short. Some are taking the highway (special diets or surgery); other are taking the “back roads” (old fashioned, calorie counting). Some can engage in exercise; running, aerobics, etc. Others are unable to do so at this time due to immobility, illness, or age. Some are coming with regrets about waiting so long or guilt about going off-plan or relapsing again and again. Some are approaching this with the belief that ‘This time I’m really going to do it!”  None of this really matters that much because we are all here for the same purpose; to become better, healthier people…and to support each other along the way.

 I firmly believe that God blessed me with this miracle and that he led me to create this group/write this blog for a reason: First to give him glory and second, to provide me with a 24-hour support system and a group of wonderful people to share in my journey. Thank you for being a part of my journey….my life….and for allowing me to share in yours. Your prayer and words of encourage meant a great deal to me during this difficult time. Regardless of how far we have to go….how much emotional stuff we bring….how many times we try and fail and try again….we are in this together, to support, to encourage, to share….and hopefully to CELEBRATE the incredible gift of life that we have been given. May we all work hard every day to appreciate those blessings, especially the people in our life, as we work to CHANGE OUR LIVES!