My mother died in April 1994. In August, I attended Tony Robbins’ Life Mastery University in Maui. I cried on the flight, thinking my mom never got to go to Hawaii. Not that she wanted to. I cried even more thinking about how when she was diagnosed with cancer and given a death sentence—which I thought we’d defy—I asked her if there was anything she wanted to do, like maybe go to Europe. (I’d make it happen!) My mom said, “Oh, honey, I’ve done everything I wanted.”
The whisper in the wind warned of an impending tornado in my soul. Dr. Bernie Siegel said his cancer patients who have goals and dreams have a better chance of defying the odds.
At Life Mastery, (with ropes for security), I climbed a 50-foot telephone pole, which by the way, sways. I stood on top of that log and leaped into the air to catch a swinging trapeze bar. Before I made that climb, one of Tony Robbins’ staffers asked what this meant in my life. What?! Like isn’t doing it enough?
“No. Tell me what it means, a metaphor for your life.”
On the spot, I declared: “It means I’m leaving my past (I meant my mom’s death) behind and leaping into a new chapter of life.”
I caught the bar! Within a year, I left the company I’d been working for for seven years, moved from Chicago to Phoenix, and fell in love.
After my sister’s husband died, she and I went to Australia. Jayne would’ve traded that trip for time (even 20 minutes) with Tom, but since that wasn’t in the cards, we went. Jayne rocked raw and vulnerable. I determined to stand guard for her heart. Maybe we secretly hoped the Great Barrier Reef could overcome her grief. No. All it could do was offer her a new experience. That’s the point: experience anew.
When something bad happens, we want it to be undone. Instead, we’re undone, unglued, unhinged from reality as we knew it. When reality turns to raw vulnerability, when the pain feels like purpose and pleasure feels foreign, it’s time to step in a new direction.
That’s why I’m in Belize. I’d like to say the palm trees and aqua water washed away my grief. That would be a lie. The loss lingers, even in paradise. Last night, I sat on a dock, alone in my soul, wishing to be a fish or a star, and crying over Kevin’s death. Still.
And yet, I’m here. I’m in a different place than I was before. I tried something new. I took a risk forward. I can’t say I’m reborn, as one of the yoga instructors said I’d be. But, I’m pecking at my shell and believing rebirth is my right.
Maybe not right here, but who knows? I do know he died and I’ve been left with a life before me. I had to do something good to remind me and reignite the pleasure that resides in my soul—not instead of, but in the midst of my sadness.