This past November, I lost my father in a horrific accident. The days and weeks following were filled with disbelief, turmoil, and trauma. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t think, couldn’t write. The crushing grief took away my words—and that was devastating. Writing is how I make sense of the world. I imagined that writing would be part of my healing, but I could not find any words to tame my anger and sadness.
I wasn’t even sure what day it was.
The recovering perfectionist, take-charge, get-it-done, type of person found herself in a state of confusion and paralysis. I had no choice but to surrender to grief and give myself a big timeout. This meant putting aside writing projects and taking a break from consulting work.
But there was one job I couldn’t take a break from—homeschooling coach to my youngest daughter. Audrey was in the midst of her college application essays and creating her art portfolio. She had 10 colleges on her list. As her homeschool supervisor/guidance counselor, I was responsible for all documentation, the transcript, curriculum description, as well as reviewing her essays. Now, my brain was muddled, my attention and energy compromised. I felt panicked by my inability to fully resume this responsibility.
My daughter knew how much I was suffering. Yet in the midst of our family crisis, she became a pillar of strength. The years of homeschooling had prepared her for independence. Audrey continued her studies and kept all commitments. She reached out to a mentor for help with writing the essays. She enlisted a team to assist her in finishing her portfolio film—all while I was curled up on the living room couch.
Gradually my brain fog lifted. I was able to check over Audrey’s final applications and help her prepare scholarship essays. Miraculously, I watched the tasks on her College Countdown list disappeared one by one. Jan 15th arrived and the final application was submitted. We were done.
Winter. Spring. Summer.
Now I have a homeschool graduate, on her way to college, who knows how to advocate for herself and problem solve. She faces obstacles and challenges with grit and grace. These essential qualities aren’t reflected in grades or test scores, but they will carry her far.
My words are returning.
The healing continues.