Finding Inner Peace After War – A Story Shared.
People are sometimes intrigued by my jewelry. They ask questions often about where I got them, what they mean, and how long I’ve had them. To me, the beauty of each piece is the story behind it. Every once in a while I’m asked which one is my favorite. This happened to me a few weeks ago after an incredible trip down the river. I was chit chatting in Mandarin with a Taiwanese couple from LA about my time at DLI, my time in war, and my subsequent life change. They were interested in knowing more, and we had begun to draw a decent sized crowd, so I switched over to English.
When they asked me which piece was my favorite, I paused. I hadn’t told the story to anybody but one couple at the very beginning of the season this year.
I looked at them solidly and said simply while holding the peace sign hanging from my neck, “This one for sure. How I got it’s an intense story, but if you’re into it, I’d love to share it with you.” They nodded enthusiastically.
A few more people gathered, and I shared THIS story with them (If you haven’t read it, NOW would be the time).
By the end of the story, the couple who had asked had their mouths open with slight smiles playing on the corners of their lips. The wife told me in English I had given her chills. They gave me a few, “I’m glad you made it here,” and a, “Thank you for sharing that.”
Another woman had hesitantly approached to listen when I started the story. I recognized her immediately as one of the passengers from my boat; the lady who was seeking “the guide with the most experience on the trip.” I had been certain she wasn’t excited about having her request answered by being brought to the boat with the teenage punk looking girl with crazy curly pink and blue hair, 20 bracelets, and a blue bandana. She had asked me dryly where she could sit to avoid getting wet. When I told her she probably wouldn’t get wet since it’s not a white water trip, she then asked where was the safest spot to sit, and how many years I’d been doing my job. She hadn’t been smiling at that moment, and although I saw her face light up several times and even halfway relax in the raft, neither was she smiling in this moment.
She was standing completely still sans her wringing hands. We locked eyes, hers brimming with salty puddles of bubbling emotions. Saying nothing, I walked to her and embraced her. We stayed that way for a while, while announcements were made. I let go of her and looked her in the eyes, nodding. My name was about to be called off, and everyone was about to be directed to look our way. I stepped back as Ben made a flamboyant gesture which I matched in flamboyance. The crowd laughed and cheered. Another announcement was made, and the tourists were released to go find their guides and “thank” them personally for their trip down the river.
I looked back at her as soon as the crowd turned away from me and she said, tears now streaming freely down her cheeks, “My son committed suicide a year ago. If you feel it getting too difficult, please talk to somebody. Ask for help.” She was sobbing now. I hugged her for a long moment, while the other passengers began to create a line to tip and thank me.
I gave her this website and thanked her for her courage. I assured her that although I’ve had tough moments, there was never a threat of suicide in my mind, nor did I ever plan to have one. She smiled sadly and hopefully before promising to read this blog.
So this is dedicated to the woman who touched my heart that day on the dusty banks of the Chilkat River.
Although I’m not a big supporter of titles and have since forgotten her given name, I haven’t nor will I ever forget the intensity of the knowing moment we shared before she walked onto the waiting bus nor the lasting imprint she left on my heart.
To me, there’s nothing stronger in this world than a woman who continues on after the loss of a child.
If you’ve been so lucky as to never experience a loss of that magnitude, remember, tomorrow’s not guaranteed.
Be as kind to those you love as you possibly can, and NEVER pre-judge a person’s reluctance to trust, because you NEVER know what they are fighting inside until they choose to share.