To put it bluntly, I have had a tough few years. In 2016 I lost my son in an auto accident. He was a single parent of two medically complex toddlers. We took custody of his children and have been raising them ever since. I remember burying my son and thinking that I will never be happy again.
I probably don’t have to say this, but motherhood is no longer an all-encompassing role for women. I had to work and balance being a mom, and all that entailed, working 40-60 hours a week. There are just so many pressures on mothers.
I feel as if, especially as women, we always sense the pressure to put on a facade. We pretend to always be capable; pretend to always be strong; pretend that we’re never offended, often we pretend we’re happy, we pretend to be in control, pretend to be pious, pretend we’re always a good person, pretend we know what we’re doing with our lives, and the list goes on and on. All this pretending is taking a toll on our lives and the only way we know how to cover it up is by pretending even more. This is exhausting. Who says we have to be perfect… who says we have to be any of these things!
My point is that we can have the most satisfying careers, greatest relationships, and financial security but sometimes we feel there is something more, something we are missing. Maybe it’s our true self, the one we have been hiding for so long behind the facade of being ‘perfect’ and ‘having it all.’
I remember the colors in the world that I used to see so brightly fading out to muted grays. Everything felt gray. I had lost hope, in myself, in the world, in the divine. I remember the skies opened up and wept with me as they lowered my baby into the ground. I stayed there with him the entire time. Slowly everyone around me disappeared and I was alone. Just him and I. I saw him into this world, and I saw him out of it. It was me and him as the darkness began to overtake us. Eventually, my husband came back and forced me to leave. It was two years before I could return.
I share this because I have never felt such pain as the loss of him. However, since I lost him, I have never felt such love, joy, or friendship as I have since pulling myself out of the depths of that gray hell.
These days I actually am happy again. I think it is important to remember that there are two days in the year that we cannot do anything about, yesterday and tomorrow. All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed; we cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone.
The other day we should not worry about is tomorrow. Its potential adversities, its burdens, its greater promise. The sun will rise and set but tomorrow is beyond our immediate control as it is not yet born. This leaves today. Anyone can endure one single day. It is when we add all of the yesterdays and possible tomorrows together that life becomes overwhelming. The remorse of opportunities past and the dread of what tomorrow brings, those are the thoughts that disturb our peace and interrupt our sleep.
“Any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.” ― Homer, The Iliad.
The measure of happiness a person feels is judged against the measure of sadness a person felt in the past. Happiness is not a stand-alone feeling. Happiness is a comparative emotion. The greater degree of sadness, the greater degree of happiness. Without sadness, happiness has no meaning. Ironically, the fear of emotional sadness often restricts a person’s ability to experience the soaring heights of happiness.
Many people live their entire lives in the middle zone. They do not experience extreme happiness, nor do they experience extreme sadness. Their happiness is restricted because they spend their time protecting themselves from sadness and emotional pain.
I know this to be the truth. I had an incredibly happy life before my son died. However, my perception of happiness was forever changed by the depths of sadness I felt after the loss of him.
Before his death, I was happy in the best way an emotionally disconnected person could be happy. Unfortunately, pain serves a greater purpose. It ascends us to a new level of understanding, of emotions, both good and bad.
It took me a long time to work through the loss of my boy, it cut so close to my soul. I found nature to be a chapel to heal. There is something about the solitude and beauty that opens you up to believe that there is something else, something after death, something more. It’s really the only place I’ve ever felt a connection with a higher being. There is something magical about being in nature. I cannot put it in words, but I feel it deep within – it touches my spirit. Just a few minutes of being in nature makes me feel healed and restored. Nature gives me strength, drains away negative energy, and fills me with positive energy. In nature, I feel connected with everything. So, one day I decided that I was going to follow my dreams and hike the AT.
I told my husband, “I am thinking about hiking the Appalachian trail this summer. Start at the trailhead in Georgia and see how far I can make it. My goal is to get at least through Virginia.”
I am not sure if my husband is on board with my plan or not, but I am doing it anyways. My husband is always asking me “why” … and to that, I respond, “If you have to ask why then you will never truly understand the answer.” He looked at me baffled.
Hmm…Why? I have to prove something to myself… that I have what it takes. To get into better shape and lose weight. For my mental health, to get away from the noise of the world for a bit. To reset. Complete and utter freedom, simplicity, and beauty. Because I want to. Because to truly know oneself, you must first get lost. Because life is short. To find myself. For inner peace. Really, I could pose the question to him, “Why not?”
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It was a great article
This is so relatable! Can’t wait to see how things go for you! Following
Great job, Zoe as always.
I know you have the right attitude to complete your goals.
I only got to meet you face to face for a brief piece of time but I feel as though we’ve been friends forever.
Go chase and catch as many dreams as you can.
Loved the article, Zoe! You have touched the hearts of many sharing your difficult journey. I love seeing you on the other side. Following!
I enjoyed and related to your story. Thanks for sharing your journey, how exciting!
Great article! Losing a child will forever change your life and sometimes we can get stuck living with our grief instead of living the life we are meant to live. Yiu being out some excellent points that were very helpful in my own journey of losing my son. I hope to see more from you as a writer.
Such a nice article Zoe. I really enjoyed reading a chapter in your life that I was unaware of. You sure you have the ability to explain emotions. I also experience accidental death my family my son was in a terrible car accident which killed his future wife. The mother of this girl was my best friend. So I can relate..please stay true and follow your dreams.
So sorry it took such an experience to write such a fine article. Good luck. I’ll be following your writing.