Gut-wrenching true story alert:
The love of Kathy’s life, her adoring husband, died unexpectedly. Kathy, gripped with shock and grief, decided that love was not for her: Horrific things happen when one lets her guard down and indulges in love. Love is not only dangerous, but obviously not in the cards.
Years later, Kathy found herself holding back in her new romantic relationship. David wanted to get married, but remember: Love was pain and not meant to be anyway…
One beautiful September day, after years of contemplation, Kathy had an epiphany: Nothing actually wonderful would ever happen if she didn’t take a risk.
So she called David and tearfully left him a voicemail at work: Yes, I will marry you. I love you, David. I love you so much. Let’s spend our lives together.
Hours later, David returned her phone call. There was screaming and crashing in the background. He was on the 110th floor of the World Trade Center. He said he knew he was going to die but didn’t care because he had gotten to truly feel love in his life. The phone went silent.
Kathy was crushed again. And she had a choice: She could hold herself back from living and loving, viewing her tragedy as confirmation that love is not meant to be; Or, she could keep living her life fully, finding resolve and meaning within the unpredictable horrors of an unbridled existence.
Kathy chose the second one. She decided to tell herself that life was full of both unanticipated difficulties and unanticipated triumphs, that sometimes there was just no rhyme or reason. And, because life was so subject to change, the beautiful moments were to be noticed, devoured, and cherished, not avoided.
Kathy, like all of us, created her own narrative about the events of her life. She did so intentionally, finding growth, purpose, and even inspiration, as opposed to interpreting events as justification for hopelessness.
Kathy “intentionally wrote her own story” about her life in general, but we can do the same thing about who we are, about our very identities, when we experience setbacks or make mistakes. We can say “I dont have the power to control ALL things, but I’ll honor that power that I do have by learning and growing instead of judging, condemning, and giving up.”
And guess what? Kathy found love and happiness again. Because happiness starts with internal perspectives and becomes exernal reality, not the other way around.
From, the therapist who had to tell herself, during election time especially, that meaningful societal change would only be born out of tensions getting a little worse…. And who really started noticing the beautiful small moments with her family after her dad died unexpectedly, and also smiles to think he did get to taste the love he was looking for at the end …. Because story of meaning in tragedy.