“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.”
― Rabindranath Tagore
I do not believe in death, I believe in life after life. I am in harmony with my surroundings, I have found an existence that fits me, my truest self. When it is time for me to leave this world, I will go with happiness in my heart as I have fulfilled a dream I often thought about when I was younger. I wake to the beauty of nature every day, I do not seek more than that. For when we meet our inner desires we have found a place of spiritual refuge.
I used to be a person who wanted too much, the void of not having everything I desired kept me seeking more and more. I reject that way of life now. Looking back on my past I realize my best moments in life were with my children in the Smoky Mountains every summer. Showing my children the beauty of nature, showing them life was more than new clothes or the best video game. We would spend those summers exploring and enjoying time outdoors. A precious memory held in my heart was with my deceased daughter riding our bikes through Cades Cove. We had to get up super early to take the hour and a half drive, but Misha was as excited to do this ride as I was! Every summer we would look for hummingbirds to come to the feeders and we would look for bear sightings. This particular morning we arrived at Cade’s Cove to ride our bikes at around 6 AM, the park closed to cars on Saturdays until noon. We saw many deer, squirrels, birds and the beauty of nature in glorious quiet solitude while the clouds occasionally graced the path we rode. It was lovely. We rode in the splendor surrounding us, we saw wild turkeys, more deer but no bears. Then when we were nearing the end of our journey there they were in front of us! A mama and two babies, we both stopped quickly and stood and watched. The joy we shared was exhilarating! We kept our distance. The mother was aware of us but we felt no danger. The little cubs played and climbed up and down the trees. We spent a half hour sharing this wonderful experience, our only communication was through our eyes. Finally the mother wandered off into the woods with her precious babies following her. My daughter and I rejoiced in the moment. These memories carry me through days of sorrow when I miss her so much it hurts. These summers were what made me dream of retiring somewhere that had mountains, nature, and streams. I held my dream in my heart in times of turmoil. I always felt if I could just be with nature I could correct the problems that plagued me. We went to the mountains until my daughter was sixteen and my son ten. It was after the last summer in the mountains my marriage really started falling apart and I put my dream into the recess of my mind.
If I can say anything favorable about the death of my daughter it is this, her death gave me the strength to move forward with my life. I filed for divorce twice from my ex. The first time was after the last summer I spent with my kids in the Smoky Mountains. It was a summer unlike the previous summers. The family of my ex would send the abusive cousin to stay alone with no supervision at my in-laws residence. He was drinking and getting high every night, destroying their mountain residence. He picked on my daughter constantly and rode a golf cart around at night drinking and smoking. She wanted so badly to fit in, but I did not want her to be around this kind of behavior. Our time in the mountains was no longer fun, but stressful. One time he even cornered my children who had taken two tubes into a lake in the resort. This cousin and a friend took a small boat and cornered them and held them hostage under a man-made waterfall, scaring them both, as the water was strong and soaking them while they desperately tried to return to shore. My daughter came back when she was finally able to get away crying because her little brother became terrified, and she felt responsible. I had enough and told my husband this and we left the mountains early never to return. It was sad. I filed for divorce for the first time shortly after that summer. I eventually went back to my ex for a short period.
The second time I filed for divorce I would to never go back. I wrote about my relationship and how I finally got the courage to leave here. The following years can only be described as hell. I found a great lawyer who kept saying to me “I will get you divorced!” I never knew from day-to-day what my soon to be ex would pull. He called the police on me, he tried to have me committed, he sent the Department of Child and Family Services to my house and this was all before my daughter died. I never knew what was coming next. Then my daughter died by a cold-blooded hit and run driver who left her on the side of the road for hours, until her body was spotted by an early morning motorist. I hit rock bottom the moment I learned of her death. I was in shock for several months after, not even knowing what each day would bring for me. My move to Colombia saved me. Now it is six years after the fateful day I left a marriage that was a sham. I have the peace I sought for many years. I no longer neglect my heart. I no longer make excuses for myself as to why I stayed in that situation for so long. I now focus on the place I am now, and I genuinely appreciate my life. I still have problems but I no longer try to rationalize anything. I accept this is part of life and I spend my days trying to make myself a better person for my well-being, I have put myself as number one in my life. I left a situation that became unbearable, and I started the long journey that has brought me to this place of peace.
The moment I awake hearing the songs of birds I feel gratitude. I know I have been given a gift that I cannot explain. I know it took courage to move; to drastically change myself and my lifestyle. However, when my child died I transferred all that was amiss into worthy, and I did it in her memory. Life will never be the same. I live and grasp each moment like life support. Her death made me look at everyone and everything differently. You must do what is right for your soul. You can’t wait until the moment is right, because that moment may never come. We are all going to die someday, and with that thought we must choose to live. We must make hard choices if we are in a situation that we find detestable, if you wait for the right day you may never see it. I am firmly embedded in Colombia, I know I can never go back to what I had before, and I do not want to. When we make strong choices it is usually because we have a past that was destructive. My choices will continue to be my own from this day forward. I will accept the consequences based on my decisions. I have found a time for peace now, and I embrace it.