Have you ever allowed yourself to be truly vulnerable and transparent with raw wounds? As Pink sings in Glitter in the Air, “have you ever invited a stranger to come inside?”
This was the choice I made after deciding (along with my son) that we would not keep the worst day of our lives a secret. October 31, 2021 changed our worlds forever when Halloween took on a whole new meaning with our real- life horror show. From that day forward, I have certifiably been able to use the term “going through hell” without a sliver of exaggeration.
In the month since it happened, I’ve relived that day over and over in my mind. The first few days were a blur. Staying out of bed for more than a couple of hours was a major task. The only food I could stomach was a banana. There were times I sat in front of the mirror and just stared, not recognizing the reflection of the pale puffy woman who looked like she had been hit by a truck. My life felt surreal. It was like watching a movie that kept twisting and turning in the most unimaginable ways. I waited and waited to wake up. It never happened so I adjusted, but not without the help of an army of angels.
In June 2021, I started seeing a therapist. I was angry. I think the first words I said to her were, “I hate people.” I was on the verge of a break-down but didn’t quite understand why. It’s now 5 months later, and it all makes sense. Toxicity was permeating my every fiber. I could feel it, I just didn’t realize the source of it. As they say, I couldn’t see the forest through the trees.
I spent Halloween 2021 at the ER with my son. I had to leave my dog, who had been badly bitten by my other dog, at home with large open wounds. I had a choice, I could either take my dog to the vet, or take my son to the hospital. As much as I love my dogs, nothing trumps my children and so we spent the evening in the ER while my dog was alone at home, bleeding and in pain.
Enter angel #1, my BFF. She came to my home and took care of my dog. She walked away from her own Halloween to help a four-legged friend in need. No questions asked, she just did it.
I didn’t sleep a wink that night. My body was in true fight or flight, jumping into survival mode every time I started dozing off.
The next day I was greeted at my home by angel #2, my former mother-in-law. She had driven all the way from NM to see her grandson. I cried in her arms for what felt like an eternity.
An hour or so later, my ex-husband and his friend arrived at our home. Angels #3 & 4 were there to support not only his son, but all of us. They were ready and willing to do anything we needed.
Angels #5 & 6, my Mom & Dad, arrived just a couple of hours later. These two get the top angel awards as they have been here ever since, pulling the weight that I haven’t had the strength to handle. I can’t put into words my gratitude for them and all they have done. They truly are the wind beneath my wings.
Once I had the courage and strength to be open about our experience, the angels kept flooding in, in numbers more than I can count.
My boss was more supportive than I could have possibly imagined. She was nurturing and calm, listening to me try to piece together the shattered story of my life – all while opening space for me to take care of family and not worry about work. Colleagues sent messages of hope and strength, and one very special colleague in California stepped in and just started handling everything on my plate.
I received a call from the owner of our company. He kindly listened and offered support and prayer. A few days later, I received generous and thoughtful gifts for the kids from my company. These gifts brightened their worlds, which had just been turned upside down.
For at least two weeks I was a blurry version of myself, yet felt no pressure from my company to be anything other than what I was. My company wrapped its’ arms around me and I will be forever grateful.
Another tragedy hit just a few days after the first one. As Rodney Atkins says in his famous song, If You’re Going Through Hell, “things go from bad to worse, you’d think they can’t get worse than that and then they do.” I have another angel to thank for introducing me to that song because it reminds me daily, that I am not the only person in the world to go through hell.
Just when I wasn’t sure I had the strength to make it through the domestic violence that had occurred on Halloween, I had a whole new issue on my hands that required a surplus of strength I wasn’t sure I had. But then another angel talked me through things on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. Anytime I called, she picked up. I cried, I cussed, I yelled. She listened. She provided reason. And she just loved me through it.
While I was away one day tending to this other trauma, my father’s car broke down. A neighbor angel swept in and came to help.
Because much of my furniture was gone, I needed a bed for my parents. A family from my son’s Cross Country team not only picked up the bed for us, but came to our house and put it together.
I had no tools so a neighbor let me enter her home (when no one was there) to borrow some. About a week later, a beautiful brand-new tool set showed up on my doorstep. That neighbor knew exactly what this single mom needed and acted on it with a beautiful gift.
I realized angels weren’t just helping me, they were helping everyone associated. Angels, Angels, Angels!
As the weeks went on, I received texts, calls, Marco Polo’s and private messages daily. Some from people in my current sphere of relationships, but many from people I had otherwise lost contact with. I received messages from people thanking me for protecting my children to messages from people telling me they had experienced domestic violence and wished their mother had protected them. The door I opened in choosing to be transparent created an overwhelming sense of community.
So many people told me they were proud of me. And when you are making a life changing move like this, “I’m proud of you” is such a powerful thing to hear.
I’m not sure how these angels knew what I needed, but multitudes of them knew. I even got a call from my brother who I had not spoken to in quite some time. I cried. He listened. He loved me and I knew he was there, and our relationship was repaired.
I got calls from colleagues who were attempting to distract me with work talk, or to just make me laugh. They knew exactly what I needed.
Gift cards to Door Dash and Uber Eats came. Cards from friends to tell me they loved me came. My BFF showed up one night with flowers and my favorite beverage and sat in my room with me in my zombie like state, just listening and being there with her super-sized angel wings.
Less than a week later, she and her husband came to help me put up a TV and then she drove with me across town for a Mexican dinner. I was still in full on walking dead mode, but she was there, once again, right by my side.
My son’s Cross-Country team, coaches and even recruiting college coaches were showing support left and right. They all made sure we knew he had made a name for himself and didn’t need to worry about missing State his senior year. That was incredibly meaningful for us. His former coach sent him gifts in the mail. I got calls from recruiting college coaches just checking in on him. The support from the Cross Country community was endless.
And at his end of the year Cross Country banquet, he received the prestigious Eagle Award for the 4th year in a row. That set back on Halloween didn’t stop him from shining bright all the way through the end of his High School Cross Country career.
So here we are, 4 weeks later on Thanksgiving Day. My parents are still here and my other brother and his son drove in from NM. Rather than relaxing and enjoying the holiday as they all should have, my whole family was at work all day long. My mom and brother tackled Thanksgiving dinner together in the kitchen. My dad was busy hanging pictures and draining / cleaning the hot tub. My brother continued through the night resetting electronics and fixing things I couldn’t figure out. And when he saw me breaking down in the middle of the kitchen for no apparent reason, he stopped everything and just hugged me. No words spoken, just sheer support through a brotherly hug.
I’ve had moments with the kids where we just hug. Moments where we lay in the yoga room and just talk. I feel closer to both of them than I ever have.
And when our injured dog finally got his cone off today, we all rejoiced and swarmed him with snuggles.
The dogs have not left my side once. They literally wrap their paws around me every chance they get.
And today, when I needed to step out into nature and just feel the feels, I listened to Glitter in the Air by Pink and stopped in my tracks to these lyrics:
“Have you ever…..closed your eyes and trusted, just trusted?
Have you ever thrown a fistful of glitter in the air?
Have you ever looked fear in the face and said, I just don’t care?”
Well Pink, I can say, on Thanksgiving Day 2021, that I have. I’m not sure in my 48 years of life I’ve ever truly closed my eyes and just trusted, until now. Because I have enough angels around me letting me know it’s ok to trust.
My angels are the ones that help me to throw fistfuls of glitter in the air, in those moments between the pain.
And because of my angels, I am able to, even if only for brief moments, look fear in the face and say, “I just don’t care.”
At my therapy session last week, she asked me if I still hate people. Through eyes filled with tears I said, “Absolutely not. I had no idea how much love was surrounding me this entire time.”
There is no way to properly thank my angels. But please know that through you, I have courage, strength and hope. You see, my tears these days aren’t just about the recent tragedies, they are also because I’ve been touched so gently I have to cry.
Much Love & Gratitude my Army of Angels. I am incredibly thankful for you.