There are many interpretations to the meaning of Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken. Surely you remember this one…”two roads diverge in a yellow wood….I took the one less traveled.” This poem talks about how the narrator came upon a fork in the road. As he approached the split, he stood and pondered on which way he should go and finally made the choice to take the one less traveled. His decision to take the road that was less traveled was based on his perception of what he saw. See…when he compared the two paths, it seemed that one hadn’t been used as much as the other one. So, in a sense, he felt like the less used path was beckoning him to take it. He then made the choice to take the road less traveled. Some of the roads that show up in our lives that are less traveled aren’t so appealing..and sometimes people don’t choose those paths. My life came upon a fork in the road in 2010, but it wasn’t a divide that I was expecting to see. Unfortunately, the choice was made for me. I had no idea that this rugged road would take me where it did. So, what do I do or can I do with that? I think it’s easier to accept where we are if we’ve chosen it, but when we haven’t chosen where life takes us, it’s hard to understand why we are on that path. My life has taken so many paths that I would have never chosen for my family. The cancer diagnosis of my brother and his death…my son’s addiction and overdose death…my daughter’s rape, post traumatic stress, and depression are all forks in the road of my life that I would not have chosen. So…what do we do with the paths our life takes that we didn’t choose? Well…the only option we have is to walk the path that has been chosen for us.
Walking an unchosen path is almost unbearable and while we may not understand the path that we find ourselves on, it is what has been dealt us. How I choose to walk that path after being placed there is completely up to me…no one else. My journey down this unknown road meant that I had to deal with all of the ugly feelings that came with it…and that hasn’t been an easy process. But what has gotten me through the darkness of that journey is that I have allowed myself to feel the despair, the anger, the pain, the numbness, and any other feelings associated with the grief of losing my brother, losing my son, and watching my daughter experience life-changing trauma. I also gave myself grace to be where I needed to be and to find my own way through the darkness.
None of us experience grief the same way…and we all respond differently to the trauma that comes our way. The key to getting through it is to let yourself feel the pain…as awful as that is…it’s necessary. When the fork in my life led to Aaron’s death, I didn’t think I would make it though the pain. If you’ve been following my blog, you know what I’m talking about because I’ve written about the rawness of that pain….the depth of that pain. In that moment, it felt like I would never find joy again. I felt like I would never see any happiness in the world anymore. I didn’t think that I would ever be able to laugh and have a good time again. It felt like my life was over and if I’m honest, there were times that I wanted for my life to be over. I remember the hollowness that I felt when I woke up that first morning after learning of Aaron’s death. It felt like I was in a desert with nothing but towering sand dunes all around me with no shelter from the elements. I lived in that desert for at least three and a half years. And, I still, at times, find my way back there and I wander around there for a short time. But…I eventually find my way back to my current life.
Yes, the path that I didn’t choose almost broke me and it was one of the darkest paths I’ve ever walked. Walking down that road and through the darkness, however, did bring me out on the other side. For those of you who are suffering and grieving the loss of a child, mom, dad, or sibling, as hard as it may be, hold on as tight as you can because there is light on the other side.