This year there was no dread. There was no clenching of my insides. My mind wasn’t transported back to those dark, fearing moments. My heart wasn’t wrenched in pain. No, this year has simply been memory. A memory of the worst day of my life that deserves its due recognition of just that. Perhaps it’s just the passage of time. Perhaps it’s the hard-earned efforts of a journey I was set upon that day eight years ago. Or perhaps it’s purpose.
From the very beginning, it’s never been about that day, the what happened, as traumatic as that event was. It has always been about her. How we were to move forward as a family. How we were to pick up the pieces of our shattered life and put something resembling a life back together. How we were going to adapt our lives to her needs. But in the past, this day has always been the stinging reminder that we had a before with her, a blissfully naïve life of endless possibilities, and then that terrible day when our world fell apart. This year, the reminder is there but the hurt feels more like a scar across my heart rather than an open wound.
Eight years. Eight hard-earned years of life, of course, with moments of joy and happiness and all the goodness of life, but mostly a time of grief and learning to navigate a life I didn’t choose. This past year, however, has been the greatest of my life. For no particular reason I suppose. Maybe because I’m settling into myself. I’ve worked through so much pain and sadness and adversity and am finally reaping the benefits of clarity, perspective, gratitude and yes, purpose.
Last week at church, I heard a sermon on greatness. What defines it. How you achieve it. And he quoted something that settled into my soul like recognizing an old friend. He said, “Impact requires sacrifice. We want maximum impact with minimum sacrifice and we spend our lives negotiating between the two.”
I’d be willing to declare I have endured maximum sacrifice, and well, my impact, Elena’s impact is yet to be determined. But here’s what I do know. She is my purpose. Being her Mom, being her voice, sharing her story, and sharing mine is my purpose. God created me for this time in my life. He equipped me with what it takes to fulfill what I was put here to do, and that is to share. Who listens doesn’t matter, but it’s me putting our heartbreak and our healing out there for people to make of it what they may. They can take of it what they can and hopefully inspire people to keep pushing through this ride called life. We all endure suffering, but it is what happens during and after the suffering what matters, what determines the impact your suffering will make.
I’m only in my mid-thirties, my life’s purpose hasn’t exactly been at the forefront of my mind. I was only 27 when Elena was injured. I had barely begun my adult life. Even so, I wouldn’t say that I’m the kind of personality that determinedly seeks one’s purpose in life. But, over the past year the settling of my soul, the clearing of my heart and mind has left but one constant, the desire to share Elena’s story, my story and the encouragement that can only come from surviving the worst.
And so, year eight, I rest in this place. A place of peace, of contentment, of goodness and of gratitude. I’m reflective of what mire I have waded through, grateful to look into the beautiful, blue eyes of my precious daughter, privileged to care for her, to be her legs and arms, to be her voice, to share the miracle of what she lived through and who she is. Finding my purpose in her is not only freedom from the chains of the past, but the greatest honor of my life.