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A Difficult Path


Burning Candle by SOMMAI

This is not what I planned to write today, and there are those who will be far more eloquent and speak more comforting words about what has happened than I can ever hope to say. I can’t even pretend that I can fully understand what families are facing right now.

I was lucky, I guess you can say. Having time to prepare yourself for death and loss can be a blessing. No, my days were not pretty and knowing the end was coming was heartbreaking. But I had time to prepare my mind and my heart for things to come. I knew when some of my last conversations would take place as I let go day by day, piece by piece. Those who lost their children and loved ones and friends yesterday did not. What started out as an ordinary day ended in a tragic nightmare. That is unimaginable to me.

To those who feel the anguish of loss now, I can offer my words and my heartfelt feelings of sorrow… and hope.

If I could speak to the families who are grieving right now, I’d tell them to feel whatever they feel without apology. I would tell them that I do understand that life will never feel the same again. I would let them know that sleepless nights and what feels like days of endless tears are ahead. They are now on a long road that will feel lonely and overwhelming sometimes.

I would also tell them that the fog will feel dense and heavy, so thick they can hardly breathe. But slowly… oh, so slowly… it will lift. It will start to clear, just a little at a time, and they will see that life will move forward. I know that forward is not what they want. Not at all. I understand that all they want to do is rewind, to go back and make all of this stop. Life is very unfair and there is no explanation that will feel right, no reason that will make any sense. As the fog lifts, though, I do know what is possible. They can take the littlest moments, the tiniest memories, and create monuments of happiness and joy to honor the ones who have been taken. They will turn the dark corners and see lights of hope, peace, and love begin to shimmer. They can carry on, never forgetting what has happened, but turning their deep sense of loss into new feelings of compassion.

My heart aches for anyone who has to go through the journey of grieving. I know there is no way around it or over it. There is only one difficult path straight through the middle of it. Along the way I hope they can find, as I have, treasures of peace and joy.

The Difficult Path Ahead = Joy

Get Real!


Some say the world is a dangerous place and filled with hurtful, angry people. Others won’t even think of bringing a child into a world like this. No, we cannot let kids roam free like they used to and often we don’t even know our neighbors’ names, much less socialize with them. We build fences and stronger locks to keep people out and away. We arm ourselves against our fear of unknown violence. We honk and curse and shake fists at one another on the roadways. We look down and avoid eye contact and certainly don’t smile at strangers. We scurry from place to place, consumed with our own lives. Yes, this is how we live… sometimes.

But there are souls in this world who long to change that, who have soft hearts that desire to spread goodness, peace, comfort, and, of course, joy, to others. Today I was the recipient of something truly extraordinary. A group of women in a neighboring city gather on a regular basis and collect money as they share time together as friends. Every quarter they choose someone to receive the money they have collected. I was nominated for this gift several months ago, unbeknownst to me. Until today, I had never heard of Womenade of Highlands Ranch. I had no idea that complete strangers had decided to give to me out of the kindness they feel inside.

There was a letter inside along with the gift, and also a note from the individual who nominated me. She shared that “even though their gifts may be small, their compassion for other women is vast.” I have to disagree. I believe their gifts are monumental because of their compassion. They give selflessly, to complete strangers, and expect nothing in return. That is the best way to give. That is the heart of compassion and love. These women, and others like them, unlock the doors, put gates on the fences, seek to know their neighbors, look deep into another’s eyes, wave and smile on the highway, and offer smiles readily to everyone. That is kindness. That is generosity of spirit. That will melt anger and turn hurt into healing. That will make the world beautiful and fill it with delight. The lovely woman who nominated me thanked me for being real. I thank her and the other members of Womenade, and countless people around the world, for choosing to be real as well. Yes, in her words…

Real People = Joy 

Open Hearts


On July 19th, I went to the movies with my brother, my son, and a friend of his. We went to see the Batman triology… 9 hours of Batman! We went to the theater just up the road from where I live. I took a picture of our special card and posted it to Facebook and, like any good social media member, tagged us at the theater. At 12:01 on the 20th we began watching the third installment: Dark Knight Rises. We dutifully turned our phones off as the movie began and settled into our seats, drinks to one side and candy to the other. After the movie, we walked out with all the other happy movie goers and made our way through the crowded parking lot to the car, not giving much thought to the policemen standing about outside the doors. Then I took Jordan’s friend home. On the way I got a text from someone in Florida asking me if we were okay. I answered in the affirmative, and then found out there had been a shooting. Did I mention I live in Aurora, Colorado?

I was slightly confused, but was very tired and went home and to bed, never checking Facebook or Google. I hadn’t seen or heard anything at the theater, but I figured I’d fill myself in after a good night’s rest.

And I did. My Facebook page was full of posts asking if we were all okay. My phone was full of text messages wondering the same thing. While I was asleep, families were grieving loss and trying to understand what had just rocked their world.

I was 10.6 miles away at another movie theater, watching the very same movie, when a killer entered the building and wreaked havoc and forever changed the lives of many.

Tonight I gathered in a yoga studio in Aurora, 6.4 miles from where lives were cut short and grief descended upon a community. But tonight we gathered for a night of yoga to honor the families that were touched by tragedy and to open our hearts to them and to each other. While a live band softly played in the studio, men and women moved in unison through asanas, breathing together and sharing in a special evening. Afterward, lying still, one teacher placed a cool lavender-scented cloth over my eyes while another began a meditation for the night. She talked about tragedy and loss and trauma. But she talked about the beautiful picture of all of us there to help support those who had suffered with our time and our donations and our open hearts, filled with compassion.

As I lay there focusing my attention on the moment, the cool towel, still smelling of calming lavender, began to mix with hot, salty tears that ran down my face. …Tonight, I leave you with this:

Lavender Mixed with Tears =Joy