“Run toward the darkness and shine”
My last post on social media was March 5, 2020. I went ghost and I didn’t post again until June 12, 2020. Truth be told, in 2019 I experienced my own personal pandemic. It began in February. A windstorm blew the roof off our church and ruined the sanctuary. It devastated my father, who is the pastor. The church is such an important part of his life, and to see his grief, frustration and loss was heavy. Our church family then experienced the loss of several members, one being a young man I watched grow up who was brutally murdered. In April, one of my best friends betrayed my trust and subsequently I was ousted from the “girl’s group”. My child then told me she misses me when I travel for work and asked if I could get a new job. After being in my Department for 10 years, I started looking for a new job.
My family was struggling, I lost a few friends, and now I have to look for a new job so I could be a better mother to my child. No worries. I told myself, “This is a bit much but nothing you can’t handle”. But the week of May 20th tested me in a way I never have been before. On Monday May 20th, my brother called me at work and said there was a house fire on my parent’s street, he didn’t know which house and he couldn’t reach them. I looked at the time and told him they weren’t home because they were picking up my daughter from school. I called both my mother and father and got no answer. I left work and drove to my parents. The street was blocked off. I parked on a side street and when I got closer, I see the next door neighbor, Mrs. Park’s home, completely engulfed in flames. Her children and grandchildren were in tears as they watched the firemen try to put out the flames. My mother and daughter were in tears and my dad was standing there stoic. Mrs. Parks was still inside the home. They couldn’t save her…
We couldn’t go into my parent’s home for hours. The firemen had gone in to make sure the fire hadn’t spread and had completely wrecked the house. The neighbors told the firemen that an elderly woman was inside our home. My grandmother, who lived with my parents, was “coincidently” in the hospital since Saturday due to congestive heart failure. We walked in the house, and my mother broke down in tears, saying, “Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus that my mother wasn’t here”. We were sure the shock of the firemen breaking the door down to find her and put out any potential fire would have stopped her already weak heart. The mix of gratitude and grief was burdensome. What happened completely unbelievable. But I went to work the next day and didn’t say a word to anyone about what happened.
Two days later, on Wednesday May 22nd, I received a call with a job offer that I readily accepted! Wow, a silver lining after all. I drafted up my resignation later, placed it on my supervisor’s desk and cripped walked out that bish, grateful for a blessing within the storm. Two days after that, and just four days after the fire, on May 24th, my world collapsed. My mom received a call from the rehab facility that my grandmother was unresponsive and was being rushed to the hospital. About an hour later, my mother called to tell me she was gone. My heart dropped. I had to tell my daughter that her Gigi, her best friend, her partner in crime, the one she colored with, watched Family Feud with, and ate ice cream with was gone. I lost my last living grandparent. My maternal grandmother. I lost my Nanie, the one who was there for me when no one else was. The woman who welcomed me in her home when I had nowhere to live after graduating college. The woman who fried the best butterfish in the world. The woman who would yell, “hand me my wig” whenever the doorbell rang. The woman whose chin hairs I used to pluck. The woman who I watched care for her sick mother, husband and sister until they all died. The most selfless woman I knew…The woman I hadn’t hugged in 10 years because of family secrets, betryals and lies. The woman I didn’t have the courage or compassion to make things right even though I knew she was old and sick. That woman. I had lost that woman. But it wasn’t time to breakdown. It wasn’t time to wallow in regret and go down the list of should haves or would haves. It wasn’t time to grieve. I didn’t deserve to grieve.
There was a funeral to plan and an obituary to write. This is the time to stand up as the first and only female grandchild. There was no weakness to be shown. My mother, father, brother, daughter and niece needed me to be strong. This was not the time for me to falter, to face the fact that I had lost the woman I had loved most, and who I hadn’t made things right with. I pushed it down, far as it could go and showed up to my grandmother’s funeral looking casket sharp my damn self. When it was time to close the casket, the funeral director signaled for me to come up. I went up there with all the strength, grace and courage I could muster and closed my grandmother’s casket. I was the last person to see her. As I closed the casket, the choir sang, “you are the source of my strength, you are the strength of my life, I lift my hands in total praise to you”, I felt the comfort and love of my Nanie. It was going to be ok…we; she and I were going to be ok.
Thirteen days later, I started my new job. I wrote, edited, and self-published a book, F**k Boy Free in 6 months. I disbanded my business, Beauty in A Barbell and started a new business Melanin Rich Wellness. I kept coaching The Fast Life 28 Day Challenge and selling my Vaginal Steaming herbs. I became a certified Yin Yoga Instructor and completed my final semester of full classes for Grad School. I kept pushing, working and I didn’t stop. I took my pain, regret, grief and anguish and poured it into projects and goals.
After my semester ended with a 3.8 GPA, my book was published, the incorporation paperwork was completed for Melanin Rich Wellness, and I completed the 50 hours of Yin Yoga certification instruction, I experienced my last and final loss of 2019. I told my boyfriend, the man I had been with for almost 3 years, my best friend, the man who had chosen the Nigerian names for our 3 future children (Ada, Ife and CJ), the man who pushed me, loved me through and inspired my book that I was done. Because, as much as he pushed me and loved me through, it wasn’t enough. I had lost enough over the past 6 months to know that there was nothing left. When I looked around, all I saw was desolation. I cancelled our annual end of year trip and walked away. He told me he was coming back for me. I didn’t have the heart to tell him there was nothing to come back to. The Kathleen he knew, no longer existed. What I had been through changed me. I no longer recognized who I was, and I didn’t know who I was going to be.
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us”
I came into 2020 with a heavy heart, a weakened will and a spent spirit. Everybody was talking about 2020 vision. I couldn’t see a gotdamn thing but my pain, my loss, my hurt and the devastation and wreckage I had the audacity to call a life. To top it off, seasonal depression came with those long, cold Buffalo winters and I could see that I was hanging on by a thread. But thank God, my ancestors were holding me up.
“Each new chapter of our lives, requires an old part of us to fall and a new part of us to rise”
On February 24, 2020 I pulled oracle cards as I do nearly everyday and I received a message that an abrupt, sudden and unexpected change was coming. I almost panicked. What now? Spirit then led me to take a social media break and March 5th was my last post. Eleven days later, the whole country was ordered to stay at home due to coronavirus. I knew this was my opportunity to engage in some radical recovery and healing.
“Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will”
And I went to work, and I went ghost. I mourned the deep and profound loss of my grandmother, of my relationship, of those three children I would never have, of the life I thought I was going to live and the woman who had survived 2019. They were all dead, gone, and weren’t coming back. I was reduced to ashes. I went searching for remnants that I could carry with me. I found an incredible courage and strength. But most importantly I found love. A deep love for myself…God and my spirit guides showered me with “renewal, the sweetness of romance, love, feminine beauty and a special blessing for healing and restoration of my body, mind and soul”. I found magic, beauty, and grace. I was shown how to soften into becoming what I was seeking. I was instructed to let my presence become inviting and shining. I was convinced to yield, surrender, and release.
The message I received during my healing period was that my old life was gone, and I was “growing into a new and stunning you”. I fought so many silent battles. I cried many wordless tears that only God and my ancestors understood. I made peace with my Nanie and gave myself the permission to grieve her transition. Suffering and Sorrow were my constant companions during that time. But they were gentle with me. I learned to love them and to learn from them in ways I had not experienced before.
“Go with Sorrow and Suffering, and if you cannot welcome them now, when you come to the difficult places where you cannot manage alone, put your hands in theirs confidently and they will take you exactly where you want to go”
I told no one what I was going through. It wasn’t for anyone to know. I didn’t need a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. I had to walk this path alone.
“But always their greatest victories are like the wild flowers which no one knows about”
On May 23, 2020, my journal entry was:
“That life is gone
But a better one awaits
I’m not the same woman I was.
I’ll never be that woman again.
I’m not the same woman I was a year ago
I don’t want to be that woman either
Its time to evolve into something/someone else
I am not worse off without my friends, without that man
I will be better
I’m not where I was and not yet where I’m going to be…
If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a hundred times, my life is SO heartbreakingly beautiful. Yes, I ghosted nearly everyone. I had to. There was an important chapter in my life that needed completion. There was deep healing that needed to occur in my life. I did the tough work. I allowed myself to feel every heartbreak and every regret. I spent many hours in the bosom of my ancestors, crying in their laps, pleading for strength to make it through each day. I passed many tests. It is complete and now it is time to step into the new life, love and happiness that awaits.
“For broken dreams, the cure is dream again; and deeper”
“Run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal”