April 30, 1978
Year three of university was complete. As always my dad provided a job for me at his millwork company. Every summer since turning 14 I was a vastly overpaid extra person in the office. Needing a break from my gruelling work, I went to the bathroom.
One tap on the door, one phone call, one long drive to my in-laws changed my life for ever.
Jim, my husband of 9 months plus one day, was dead. Killed instantly when his motorcycle went off the road. His neck snapped and mercifully he suffered no pain.
Why him? Why not me? He was smarter, he had much more to offer the world than I did.
Life defaulted to an anguishing slow shutter speed in a nano-second.
My community enveloped me with a mantle of protection. They walked with me, sat with me, cried with me. They held me in my confusion – only in 1978, we would never have called it that. My community drove me to UBC to register for summer school. We stood in line while I cried. They endured the awkwardness of being with raw grief in public because they knew I’d need these courses to keep moving forward.
My community honoured my faith. They brought me to my anchor. When my grasp was weak, they held on with me.
Dr. Gordon Neufeld, (yes, that one) reminded me to keep my heart soft. 36 years later, I’m still keeping my heart soft. At times, throughout these years, my soft heart has hurt intensely.
Community guarded my fragile heart.
- the ability to do something that frightens one.
- strength in the face of pain or grief
There are no more steps. We must stop. We need IT to stop. There is nothing left. The tank is empty.
Or is it?
We dig deeper, we lean into our community. We open our eyes a bit at a time. The slow motion speed is not quite as painfully slow, the world isn’t as black. Colour is returning. We are discovering a new ‘set’ spot. In hindsight, it was like the world’s longest reboot.
It was a day at a time, a step at a time, a breath at a time. Courage led the way.
Integrity in grief. Being true to my heartbreak. Using what little courage I had to lean into my community. To let myself be held. To let myself be helped.
My grief was complicated. Life is complicated. No story is simple. It’s not a straight line from point A to point B.
Community brought me to Courage. Courage held up Integrity like an invisible guide whispering, ‘come Carol – we can do this’.
After good enough wasn’t good enough anymore, I sought after excellence. But how does one excel at grief? Over time the lens cleared. There never was an answer to the why, but clarity to the meaning of my life slowly became etched, more-so carved into my being. I am here for relationship. I am here to love. I am here to excel at becoming more fully human.
October 18, 2014
This week I bore witness to community, courage, integrity, and excellence in living form amongst our staff. The details are not mine to tell, but I can testify once again, to the power of relationship.
When I wonder why I do what I do, I can stand firm in the knowing that we are all in this together. As the adults in the building lean into each other, comfort each other, grow with each other, the students – the reason we are here – are cloaked with the overflow of love. And really, if we don’t love them, why ARE we here?
Leaning into Better as possible,