Saturday was "Cupcakes to Cherish", a Cherishing the Journey fundraiser I have been helping with for the past several weeks. I have been putting a great deal of energy into it; writing press releases, securing a few raffle and silent auction items, and other miscellaneous things. Mike and I arrived at 9:30 to help set up. We made some signs to put out on the road and helped get the area organized for the event. When it started, I was in charge of selling the raffle tickets as well as some baseball game tickets for another fundraiser in August. For the entire afternoon, I was extremely busy selling tickets. Several friends came by to say hello, which meant so much to me. I am so honored that they would take time on their own Saturday to come support my efforts and to remember Kenley. Towards the end of the afternoon, I spoke to the crowd about how much the memory box I received from Cherishing the Journey meant to me. I was nervous because I thought I would lose it, but I think I held it together fairly well. I wavered a few times throughout my speech, but I didn't go over the edge. Mike stood behind me the whole time.
The day ended with me completely exhausted. But, I realized something amazing. I smiled - almost all day long. Except for the five minutes of my speech, I smiled. For a good part of the day, I felt like an enormous weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Not permanently, but just for a moment. For a moment, I could breathe again. For a moment, I could feel the sorrow slipping away from my heart. For a moment, I felt like I had purpose again. I felt good about what I was doing with my life. And I realized something. I am not beaten.
I am still in charge of where I am going. My grief may have changed my course, but I can still chose my path from here. For the past few weeks, I have been having a very difficult time. The reality and finality of losing Kenley hit hard. Once the initial shock of loss has worn off, you are left with an eerie silence. Your heart has stopped its piercing screams, and instead settles into a dull and constant ache - and you begin to painfully realize that you will always battle the heaviness that accompanies loss. That is a hard pill to swallow. When you're forced to look down the road at a lifetime of hurt, you want to turn away in disbelief. You want to throw in the towel and just give up. What good is a life of pain? What good am I with such a broken heart? Saturday made me see that good. My life is not at all what I want it to be - but since I still have to live it, I might as well live it the best I can. I might as well bring as much light into it as possible. Saturday made me realize that life can still be good - in spite of pain. I can still find a place to put joy inside my broken heart. It might slip through the cracks, and I might have to consistently monitor it to keep it from falling out - but there is still a place for it there.
Everything that happens to me from now on is a falling domino from Kenley's death. I realize this. I can't change the past. I wish I could - with every fiber of my broken being, how I wish I could - but I can't. I'd like to tell you I can control my future, but I am not really even sure about that either. What I am sure about though, is that I will not let either one of those defeat me. I am not free of heartbreak. My past will always hurt. My future might have more pain tucked up its sleeve. I don't know. None of us know. The only thing we know is that we are guaranteed nothing in this life. But instead of allowing things to happen to me, I can choose to make them happen for me.
Working at Cupcakes to Cherish this weekend helped me to see the good that can be accomplished as a direct result of great sadness. It helped me to see that I am stronger than my sorrow. I will have bad days. For the rest of my life, darkness and light will come and go. For the rest of my life, I will have moments that bring me to my knees with a sucker punch of blinding pain. I will have moments that open up old wounds, letting the blood flow freely from my heart. I will have moments that make me feel like I have been beaten, like I have nothing left inside of me but razor sharp shards of a fractured soul. For the rest of my life, I will fight this. And, while it seems so daunting sometimes, other times it seems like a fight I can win. And as long as I keep fighting - as long as I keep pulling my bloodied and broken self up onto the ropes - as long as I keep getting back on my feet - I will win. I am not beaten. I'm just catching my breath.