November is a challenging month for me. It’s the month of birthdays, birthdays should be celebrations, but instead, for me, they give me a pause for grief. Instead of celebrating my sister’s 50 years of life, I’m marking almost 14 years of her murder. Instead of celebrating 44 years of my brother’s life, I’m marking over 21 years of his death. I want to be celebrating them. I want to be throwing a huge bash for Lily, for her bicentennial… to be flying out to be with her, or have her fly in to be with me.
I can honor their memories though. I can honor the love we shared, the friendship, the joys… the lives they lived.
I can bring their stories to life, to tell them, again and again, if it helps even one person. Their stories matter. Their lives matter.
Sometimes I feel like my story is too much. It’s too big, it’s too challenging, it’s too hard to hear. Sometimes the voices in my head tell me I don’t matter. That speaking up won’t change a thing, and then… when I speak up and someone comes forward to share how my voice helped them, I realize my voice matters. My words have weight. My story can make an impact, if I’m willing to share it.
I battle anxiety, depression, fear … the feeling that I’m not enough. I’m not up to the task, I’m not good enough… that I’m going to fail, so why try. I refuse to lose that battle. I refuse to give up the fight… I will keep battling, every day if I have to.
There’s so much that tries to keep me down, and sometimes I fall… but do you know what? Falling is just a prelude to getting back up. I’m not perfect, I’m clumsy – emotionally, physically, and in relationships. I’m weak, but I appear strong to the world. I’m great at wearing a mask, at feeling like I have to do it all on my own… and I’m surprised at the support I receive when I open my heart to be vulnerable to my friends.
Despite how often I feel all by myself, I’m not alone. I’m surrounded by friends who care for me, by family who love me, by my God who carries me through everything.