Don’t Follow the Path, Blaze the Trail – Part 1
This quote by Jordan Belfort really caught my attention as I sat down to write today. I sat down to write last week too, but found my path washed out when memories were unlocked anew and since respecting the unexpected turns in the journey is one of the key messages I hope to share through this blog, I set my ‘pen’ down and spent time in the eddy of the memories that pooled around me.
I am going to approach this topic in 3 parts for several reasons, but primarily because I feel that I have faced 3 layers of challenge in accepting my path through the grief of losing my former relationship with Errol. The first layer brought me the greatest challenge but as I look back, I see that it saved me. For me, the first path that my grief took was a deep, thick, and enduring numbness.
“Can we see him?” I cut through the ongoing words of the doctor as she continued to explain all they had done in their attempt to keep Errol with us. They had failed, so nothing she was saying meant anything to me. Nothing cut through the barrier of impossibility that had already wrapped itself tightly around me.
I don’t remember the walk down the hall to the room where Errol’s body waited. I remember that my very first glance told me that the empty costume that Errol had inhabited for just over 20 years was just that – a vessel that no longer contained anything of Errol. Errol had departed and left that beloved costume as empty as a deflated balloon. I remember stroking and kissing the chilled form that was visually familiar and beloved and the words “oh, my precious boy…” and, “I’m so sorry…” these were the only words that seeped unconscious from my numb lips. My mind was packed with stuffing – dense and impenetrable – inconceivable is what it was – my mind couldn’t grasp the reality. Craig was there, and I am ashamed to say I honestly wasn’t aware of him or what he was experiencing except for feeling his arms around me, supporting me – and that confused me because against all reason I was standing, breathing, functioning, and not tearing my vocal cords to shreds with the screams that should have been rending my sanity.
I don’t know how long we stayed there. My thoughts shifted to Dylan, who had remained at home. I knew he would be frantic with worry, and I knew that a text or call could not deliver this incomprehensible information – what could?
I remember leaving that room. I remember hugging the EMTs standing there, the look of devastation on their faces called to me and confounded me – I reached out and hugged them and thanked them. They tried their best to keep this moment from happening and I at once wanted to ease their suffering and to absorb it, to let it spread to me so that it would release the agony that I couldn’t feel.
Over the coming months, that feeling of confusion turned to self-doubt and even contempt. During the funeral, celebration of life, and all the long weeks and months that followed the comments that came to me felt like condemnation – “How can you be so strong?” Each of these comments deepened my confusion. I would look at those around me who were grieving with an utter inability to fathom my own response. Even expressions of grief on TV became like knives of accusation. My typical response and reasoning of “it’s just shock” began wearing thin and I started asking myself, “what is wrong with you?” Self-doubt had me imagining myself as some uncaring monster, but in each of those moments I would hear a little voice, just there – in my right ear as though Errol’s chin were resting on my shoulder, his arms wrapped tightly around me, “you are an incredibly loving person. Don’t lose sight of the things you know are true.”
So, with those unfailing words of wisdom, I would accept the numbness. I would accept that any time I looked at photos of Errol my mind just simply refused to accept that my beautiful boy wasn’t physically here anymore. I began to believe that my inability to process that reality was because I know without doubt that, while Errol isn’t physically here, he is certainly very much present. Slowly I began to trust that I was feeling and doing exactly what was right for me.
About that same time, I began pursing the complaint process with the College of Physicians and Surgeons and found that I gave the facts with honesty and accuracy without losing myself in the memories – the numbness turned to armor as I carried out that battle.
All though this process, which lasted more than 18 months, I was absorbing information, strengthening my beliefs about where and how Errol is now. All that I have learned makes me certain that Errol is where he wants to be and where he is supposed to be. I miss Errol so much, but I would sincerely not ask him to return to this existence because he is infinitely better off now and one day, I am going to get to join him in the pure bliss he is experiencing now. And now; now that I know that with all of my being, I am able to return to the moments that would have destroyed me 2 years ago, and I am able to sob, and hurt, and weep without losing myself in doubt and despair. God has led me down the perfect path that in the fullness of His time, allows me to grieve without breaking.
I go back to the title of this post – the Jordan Belfort quote “Don’t follow the path, blaze the trail” – I want you to know that while it may seem that you are not blazing a trail, but barely stumbling along the ditch, know that if you are being true to the path that is uniquely yours – you are blazing!
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