Kahlil Gibran once wrote, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”
I’ve loved that line for as long as I can remember. I remember marking it from my mom’s copy of “The Prophet”, among a few other passages that struck me. Yet it is only this year when I truly understood what it meant.
I started the year in the worst way possible. Seven days into 2011, I lost my mother to cancer. It had been a battle she was fighting for nearly two years, with the malignant cells from her ovaries eventually spreading into other parts of her body, including her lungs. I keep thinking I will miss her even more so in the years to come, when those everyday moments and momentous occasions will unfold and she’s no longer here.
A part of me died last January 7, 2011, and it was a struggle to pick up the pieces. Suddenly, I realized how little I knew about running the house, having been forever dependent on my mom and the household help. It was a process of relearning even the most basic of things, like doing the laundry and going beyond frying and microwaving (I’m hopeless, I know).
I didn’t know it back then, but death marked the start of some significant changes in my life. I started on a new job in April, which gave me the kick that I was searching for—an outlet to be once again competitive with myself and to be a bit more creative than what I had been used to for a time. Of course, that didn’t mean completely leaving what I had been doing—work and advocacy came hand in hand.
I found a new sense of purpose not long after. I’m not the only one who would say this, but 2011 took away a lot of mothers and fathers from children who were never really prepared for such loss—and I found myself supporting friends that were undergoing the same grief. And as I type this, my best friend just shared with me the photos of Kythe Foundation kids that we gave gifts to. I cried for their smiles, which had shone through, despite much pain.
And then there was football—which, I suppose, helped me cope with my grief. I’d like to think it wasn’t escapism, but more of living out a passion—which necessarily leads to another purpose. It literally took me places this year. However, beyond that, it connected me with people that shared the same passion—the ones I hope to share many more years of friendship with.
I still find it hard to fully comprehend the changes I had to undergo this year. Perhaps it will hit me in the unlikeliest of times, at the unlikeliest of places. The only thing I know is this: life really does go on after loss and grief. And if you let it, it can just love you back once more.
2011 broke my heart with the loss of my mother, but my heart had to break so I could let you all in—and re-learn what it meant to love once more. I learned it from my old friends, who were there with me at the toughest of times. I learned it from new friends, who showed me what passion meant. I learned it from my family, especially from my dad, with whom I have reconnected. I learned it from a stranger who took me by surprise in one lucid moment that would never be repeated.
Somehow, despite my grief, I never walked alone in 2011. I hope your 2012 will be filled with magic—the kind of magic that you make and share with the ones that matter most.