Today is graduation!
When I first looked into going back to school, when Kai was alive, a 13 month massage therapy program seemed totally doable. I wanted to help people. I wanted to help kids like Kai and Kai made me believe for the first time in my life that I could do anything. I was determined to live life different. I was a dragon mom.
“He was totally helpless. That makes me want to live a big life because he never got to make any decisions on his own.” -Emily Rapp (dragon mom), The Still Point of the Turning World
Starting school 13 months ago, 10 weeks after Kai’s death, everything seemed utterly impossible. For ten weeks I had been living in my own little bubble. I frequented the places where Kai and I went. I talked only to people who knew him. I spent my days trying to connect to the world again by helping other families through Kai’s Village. I spent my nights reluctantly trying to embrace the emptiness that had surrounded me. Sitting in class that first day changed all of that. No one in that room knew I was a dragon mom or a wife or nurse or therapist. No one knew my baby boy had just died and I ached to tell them, to tell everyone.
The past 13 months and 10 weeks have been some of the most challenging, confusing, inspiring and sad times of my life.
Everyday has been a struggle in one way or another. The coursework was much more intensive than I and anticipated. My days shifted from event planning, hospital visits emails and phone calls for Kai’s Village, to days of locking myself in an empty room trying to memorize muscles and bones. I stopped writing. The quiet was gone. I felt fragmented, scattered and shattered into a million pieces. The more I tried to embrace this chaotic life I had created for myself the more distant I felt from the rest of the world. School was taking over my life; a welcome distraction, sometimes, but at other times I was resentful. I didn’t have a moment to breath. A moment to grieve.
I think I tried to quit school 3 times in the first 6 months. The second half of our program everything changed. Somewhere along the way I began to breath again. I began connecting with people who did not know Kai and it started to feel ok. I made friends and found focus and drive for the work I was doing. We started clinic and internship and through that new and amazing people were coming into my life every day. People I shared and connected with. People who helped remind me why I chose this path. People I was able to help. I was slowly beginning to building life after Kai.
So hear I am 13 months and 10 weeks later about to graduate. About to start work in a pediatric hospital massage program, helping kids like Kai. Ready to create a new kind of (organized) chaos that allows room for quiet times and writing, meeting new people and reconnecting with all of my amazing friends and family who have stuck by me this year as I disappeared into the darkness.
I will be walking into that room today connecting my worlds. I am excited to introduce my new friends to the people who have stood by me forever. I am thankful that these people, who were once strangers, have come to know me as a dragon mom, Kai’s mom, a caregiver. They have come to know Kai through my stories and sadness and drive. These people who were once strangers grew to be the one who held me up on some of my darkest day. 13 months and 10 weeks ago I never thought any of this would be possible.
I can not thank you all enough, family and friends, old and new, for standing by my side no matter how much I have tried to push you all away. Thank you for supporting me, for getting to know me, for listening to me. Thank you for believing in me when I couldn’t.
I am excited for what’s ahead in a way I did not think was possible a year ago.
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you.
If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”
― Barack Obama