Oh, Darah! She was that kid that you could always count on! If you told her to be home by 9:00, she would be home by 8:55.
She cared so deeply for others. She was the kid that was friends with the “uncool kids.” She loved people of all ages. After her funeral, I learned that she would just pop in to say “Hi!” and visit with the parents of one of her friends. I never knew that! She just loved people and she loved life and all it offered her. She lit up a room and almost always found the positive in things.
I think that’s why she had stars on everything!
She was never afraid to try something new. In fact, I think she loved the challenge of trying something bold – something that maybe only boys would do. 🙂
She wasn’t perfect, but she was full of love, compassion, kindness, and understanding. She listened, helped, and knew how to have fun with a little bit of mischief.
What a blessing to be her mom!
What a heartache to lose Darah in a car accident when she was just 18 years old.
On the way to the morgue, I stared at the sky and said out loud, “If Darah popped her head out of the clouds and told me she was safe and warm, I could be OK with all of this.”
I sobbed at the morgue, but also felt oddly calm. It didn’t make sense at the time, but became clear about a year later.
While driving one day, I had to pull over when I became hysterical over memories of the morgue. “I didn’t love her enough,” I cried. “If I did, I would have pulled her off that cold, metal table and taken her home! I should have fallen to the floor in hysteria; I should never have left the room!”
As I tortured myself with these thoughts, I felt a “knowing” that I had been watched at the morgue.
That, in fact, Darah had watched me from the right-hand corner of the ceiling. She had watched to see if I was walking my talk! I had always told her, “You are supposed to grieve and be sad when someone passes away, because we miss them so and we want them here. But there is another plan, and that the plan is better than what we think. I can’t explain it. It is just a knowing, something you will feel. You will just know it is the truth.”
Well, how could I have said that all these years, only to respond with hysteria and no belief in a higher power? It would have made what I said to Darah for 18 years a lie. There was a healing in that moment; a connection I hadn’t felt before with her.
Around the same time, I would walk by her pictures on the wall and cry uncontrollably. At one point I heard her say, “If just looking at me makes you cry, then don’t look at me until you can laugh and remember how much fun we had. I want my life to be more than your being sad.” I began to feel as if she were telling me, over and over, that staying in that pain wasn’t serving her, our family, or myself.
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So I started asking myself, “What can I do today that will honor Darah?” With that, I became kinder. Kinder in my thoughts, in my judgments, in my feelings, with God. Slowly, I started to feel better. The pain wasn’t as raw, and I realized that thousands of mothers have gone through this and survived. Somehow, I could, too.
I looked for ways to honor her by putting memorials in the newspaper with happy, positive thoughts, like, “Bless those who make us smile; they are the charming gardeners of our soul.” I noticed that memorials were often sad, and I wanted to take a different approach to honor who Darah was.
I began talking to people who had lost loved ones. I was drawn to helping them acknowledge their losses and see the value of continuing to live their best lives. We often talked about how to bring our loved ones with us in a way that kept them “alive.” From the beginning, even when I was grieving, I said, “What can I do to bring Darah forward with me? I cannot leave her behind.” Early on, I did this from a place of fear and sadness. I didn’t want to donate clothing or rearrange furniture or laugh again, for fear that Darah wouldn’t recognize me or our home, or she would feel left behind. And again I heard Darah say to me, “Perhaps you are not leaving me behind. Rather, I am waiting for you to catch up to me.”
I decided I would find a way to live side-by-side with this new life, and somehow give meaning to my life and all life, through Darah’s passing. Through her passing, I realized we are here to grow, to become the best versions of ourselves, to be all that we can be, to live full out…even in the face of tragedy.
My broken heart became my teacher to something that I had questioned all of my life: What are we here for? What is the purpose of life? In the past I knew me as my personality and things I was capable of. Through Darah’s death, I discovered the power within me that had been guiding me all along. I could rest into knowing that if I took the next step, the ground would rise up to meet me; that I was being supported by an Infinite Intelligence, a presence of love, God, like I had never experienced before.
This everyday life we live…that’s just part of our story. We are also here to help others on their path when they need us, and to lead by example. But that’s the most fun part because we get to learn about ourselves! Not our job, or our hobbies, or our hair color, but the I AM self, the High Self, the part of us that is connected to God at all times. True satisfaction, true living comes from knowing that there is a oneness, a global connection to all of us.
On a deep level, I have always known there is something more than the “five senses” life we live. That there is something magical about this life, and it’s not just the life we know, but the afterlife as well. That those who have gone before us are still connected to us, and us to them. That sometimes we gain our biggest faith by going through the unthinkable.
Darah’s life had, and still has, deep meaning and purpose. The best way I can honor her is to live a full and flourishing life, and to inspire others to do the same!