Updated: Feb 19, 2020
It’s been raining all day today. I have no idea why that seems poetic at this point, but every day on this day, it should be raining. It could have been raining on that day as well, but honestly, most of the visions that still dance in my head to not involve raindrops but rather teardrops. It could have been snowing. I’m not sure because my world paused for a short time, even though it seemed like forever. Taking myself back to that moment, that curb, that period in time when my world was flipped on its head, is something that the wonderful world of social media takes me down memory lane every year. Thank you Facebook, for throwing it back in my face and forcing me to deal with the pain all over again. What pain might you ask? That picture looks pretty great to me. Smiling little girls with their OSU clothes on, so early in the morning, ready to see a parade that their little eyes had watched for two and six years. What is funnier about that picture, other than the fact I had long hair, is less than one hour after this photo was taken, my world changed forever.
But still, I rise.
This dumb day comes every year, and with it, the flashbacks come as well. The screams, the smells, the sound of helicopters where the thud, thud of the wings hitting the air, was a never-ending source of terror. Those images, right in my face, every year. The fact that my littlest was so angry about losing her candy, and my oldest daughter was so scared at the horror that was unfolding around her, are images that are forever burned into my brain. It never gets easier. It’s hard even to be reminded of a memory from that day without fear, and for that, I am sorry. It’s hard to be in a place that for so long held so many wonderful memories, that now, after four long years, I still struggle with the thought of rolling into that town, that area, and sadly, I make the long loop around Stillwater, to avoid that corner. Yes. I refuse to move through that intersection because of the ghosts that still haunt me. The sights. The smells. The taste of tears and fear. Oh yes. Fear has a taste. And it is one that I have fought to throw back up every single day. Every single day from that day forward has been hard. Every single day from the moment of terror to the time of salvation has been hard.
Knowing now what my body and mind went through that day seems to give it some comfort and relief. I know from my intense schooling on trauma that the body does some crazy stuff when it must protect: there is a reason I shook to the core for over an hour; there is a reason those images were burned into my mind; there is a reason why I was cold for days on end; there is a reason why I can’t be in large crowds; there is a reason why I fear: and it’s called PTSD. I’ve fought with God’s army the last four years to try and wrap my wounded, and I do mean wounded, brain around that event, and WHY I was dealt those cards. I’ve buried myself into studies upon studies of PTSD and built a company that refuses to let anyone else suffer. My most excruciating pain quickly became my Godly purpose, and yet, I still fear at times.
But still, I rise.
On that day, I still can’t remember all the details. The body, again, has an amazing mind to help us cope in times of trauma, but I do remember that when I handed my two little girls off to my brother and dad when they finally arrived to shield them from the terror, knowing they were in safe arms and being led from the wounded, I collapsed. There was a woman who caught me and held on to me, let me cry, let me beg, let me unleash every aspect of the broken world I saw before me until my husband came and took me out of her arms. He had been dealing with the carnage and the wreckage from the moment the impact happened, and it was only then, did I see his face, and let go. Looking at that scene from a 30,000 ft. view, I would have whispered to those two people right there “you think this is bad, just wait”….but good will come.
But still, I rise.
Had I not had that unknown woman to carry me in my darkest hour, I would have failed that day. I could not have stood on my own two feet, and I definitely could not have made any rational decisions, because that is what trauma does. Had I not had someone carry me out of that scene, let me cry, and walked me home, I would have failed. Had I not had a husband, a counselor, and a nurse practitioner demand more from me and out of me, working together for me to survive, I would be dead. Had God not reached down and pulled the chaos out of my life at that very moment and lead my path the years that followed, all of that pain would have been for nothing. It’s not for nothing. And neither is your pain and despair. I’ve had people tell me how awesome my story is and I shakingly share it to anyone that asks, but mostly, I refer them to my blog, as even still to speak about it is hard. But proudness is not what I’m after its MOVEMENT.
But still, WE RISE.
We work every day, every hour, every minute to catch the ones that will fall. Picking you up when no one will help and not letting you go until you are safe, back in the arms of the ones you love. I’d be dead on that curb, and be dead from the months of crapness that followed if I didn’t have my group, my tribe, my God, who lifted me out of those ashes; and I thank God every day for all of them. So MOVE. Don’t let another person die. Don’t let another person think they are alone and there is not hope. Don’t let your trauma anniversaries roll around every year, only to wallow in the memories. Get off your butt and do something with the pain you’ve endured and conquered. The world needs you and your story. Move out of your comfort zone. Move out of your place of peace. Learn from your past and move toward the future. Your curb could be anything, but to someone, it is their saving grace.