On June 13,2013, The Grief Toolbox published an article called “Please Come to Boston- The Circularity of My Grief Journey”, which can be found at the following link:
http://thegrieftoolbox.com/article/please-come-boston-circularity-my-grief-journey . In this piece, I wrote about my upcoming attendance and participation in the 2013 national conference of The Compassionate Friends in Boston, Massachusetts and about coming full circle in my grief journey. My life forever changed when my daughter Jeannine was diagnosed with cancer and given a poor prognosis for recovery at Dana Farber Hospital in Boston during June of 2002. Her death on 3/1/03, at the age of 18 triggered a metamorphosis in me that I never thought possible. The actual trip back to Boston for The Compassionate Friends conference represented another chapter in my ongoing transformation following the death of my child.
Changing My History
“All roads ultimately
lead to the same place-
the present moment.”
The Afterlife of Billy Fingers
I have learned during my journey that any path that I have chosen to embrace or past decisions that I have made were ultimately related to what was occurring with me in the present. Every choice that I made in my past ,from being an addiction counselor to teaching prepared me for my life, as I know it now. Mindfulness or awareness in the moment requires an appreciation for the lessons of our past; an appreciation of our histories including our painful moments. True metamorphosis does not occur during times of contentment; it occurs as a result of life-altering challenges.
Sometimes during our journeys, it is necessary to go back to the beginning. For me, the beginning was a return to Boston; a city I viewed through a lens clouded by the pain and emptiness resulting from the shattered dreams of my only daughter’s cancer diagnosis and prognosis. During this visit, I intended to create some new memories and in the process, change my history.
Truths Revealed in Quincy Market
My wife Cheri and I along with four other members of our local Compassionate Friends chapter, arrived in Boston on Wednesday 7/3/13. On July 4th, Cheri and I spent some time at Quincy Market. Some of the most profound teachings or moments of synchronicity that I have experienced during my journey have occurred in the most unlikely of settings; Quincy Market was no exception. During our visit , I encountered what could best be described as a mime. For a mere dollar, She offered to give me some written words of wisdom. I proceeded to give her a dollar and she randomly gave me the following words of wisdom: Now is the time for you to take a different path. After I read these words, I smiled and handed the slip of paper to Cheri to read. I had spoken with her several times prior to Boston about my gut feeling that there were going to be changes in my life. I didn’t know specifically what those changes were going to look like, but I trust that the specifics will be revealed to me …… in time.
Shortly after I received this message, I came across a store in Quincy Market named Clarity. I have strived to find spiritual clarity during my journey after loss through a variety of unconventional paths. Regardless of what the universe presents to me in the form of change, continuing to achieve clarity will be a consistent need throughout my journey.
Some Final Observations
After I returned from Boston, I had some additional time to reflect on my trip. Here are my thoughts:
- You can sometimes allow yourself to be a passenger on your own journey. I did the majority of the driving during my first trip to Boston with Jeannine. I chose not to drive this time around. It gave me a chance to reflect and take in my surroundings. It is amazing to me what I missed the first time around.
- We are the architects of our own experiences and consequently we can empower ourselves to see reality in ways that best suit our individual needs.
- The willingness to pay attention to what is going on around us and embracing the connections that we discover can enhance spiritual awareness.
- In order to affirm our strength as a result of life challenges, we must be first willing to sit ,honor and acknowledge the pain and other emotions associated with them. I don’t believe that you can affirm strength without experiencing the totality of a life-changing event.
- It is my hope that as parents, we can someday see the death of our children as a part of our life experience. In addition to being a parent who has experienced the death of a child, I am a husband, father, teacher and a friend. Please understand that I will never get over Jeannine’s death and that I have been totally redefined as a result. I have just learned to appreciate the totality of who I am as a human being. It is my hope that all parents who have experienced the death of a child appreciate the unique talents and gifts that they all possess.