My Circle

My Circle

Friday, May 27, 2016

Lessons in the Carribbean

Yesterday was a stepping stone in my grief process, a moment in the healing journey.
Grief is such an odd walk, sometimes you expect the triggers - like driving through Tennessee last year - and other times these moments crash on you unexpectedly.
Oddly enough, these are the moments that, although they are awful to breathe through - bring such comfort because I KNOW the presence and peace of my Savior as He carries me through the valley, lifts me up out of the waves.
Yesterday was one of those unexpected tsunamis that opened my eyes to another facet of healing, growth, and grief that I needed, desperately, to address.

It was a perfect day in the Riviera Maya - we were on a girls birthday trip in Tulum, an unexpected blessing, and we decided to try a new activity; paddle-boarding in a bay off the ocean.
We headed out early, dashing across mexican traffic to catch the "Collectiva", or local taxi bus. We crowded 6 of us girls into the little bus and hurtled down the road. Upon reaching our stop we were met by our guide and instructor (Mauricio, from Mexican carribbean kitesurfing and paddle boarding; he was one of the most authentically friendly humans I have ever met! An amazing guide and I cannot recommend him enough!! He was incredible.).

It was an exquisite location, a hidden away bay, off of a private road - one of the most beautiful places I have experienced! After a quick lesson, the 6 of us and Mauricio, set off across the bay to a snorkeling location close to a coral reef.

Since CJ drowned while we were vacationing, I have had to walk through irrational fears regarding fun, vacations, and specifically water activities while on vacation. It is a fact of post traumatic stress that I have to pray my way through vacations, adventures, etc. I have snorkeled several times since Cj's drowning and every time it is a battle - praying my way through the moments. Today was no different and I was anxiously excited about this trip as a means of facing my fears again.

So... paddle boarding is NOT as easy as it looks!! LOL ;-) I finally made my way out to the buoy, donned my snorkeling mask and dropped off my board into the sparkling, blue green, salt water. We spent a few minutes swimming around the coral, taking in the amazing life species swimming around. I was enjoying myself and wasn't swallowing sea water! LOL
Suddenly, one of the girls said, "wow, that current really pushed us out far from our boards".
I looked up to see our string of boards a surprisingly far distance away and with every swell of the waves, getting further away. My heart leaped into overtime and I began to swim, thinking to myself, "it's ok, you just have to start moving that direction again."
However, I quickly realized that the current was a lot stronger than I anticipated and my swimming was only keeping me in place; not moving me towards my goal.

Two things happened then that brought my tenuous control to the edge of breaking. As I turned to assess my situation I accidentally got my snorkel swamped with sea water and took a BIG gulp as I went for a breath - choking/gagging result!! Ocean water is nasty stuff to drink and it makes your throat feel like its sticking together. Crazy to be surrounded by gorgeous water and So. Incredibly. Thirsty.

And secondly, I heard a friend, say "...oh, I'm tired. I just about drowned with that wave..." I looked at her and I instantly saw that she wasn't joking, she was truly getting exhausted, we were very far from our boards, I couldn't see Mauricio as the waves kept coming and in my growing panic, I again turned wrong and drank another mouthful of salty water as I inhaled.
My world instantly changed and I was once again, standing on an riverbank in the mountains of Tennessee in never ending water searching for my husband.



Not knowing what to do.
Knowing there was nothing I could do.
Knowing I somehow wasn't doing enough. ...and my husband was paying the price for my inability - with. his. life.

A voice whispered accusingly
::You didn't save your husband and you aren't going to be able to help your friend either; you aren't strong enough, able enough, She isn't going to make it and you are helpless to do anything about it::

Overwhelming dread, agony and fear flooded me as I kept swimming, thoughts crashing in my head as I tried to figure out a successful plan to get aid and kept coming up short as I couldn't seem to swim fast enough to beat the current and again took a mouthful of disgusting salt water as I began to panic and lose all rhythm.
I was already praying, but, this time I just cried out "Jesus help me"!

He spoke softly, "Whom exactly are you relying on, Hannah? Who didn't "save" your husband that day? Do you believe that was a malfunction of your own strength? You CANNOT carry that burden. Who is caring for you today and can I take this from you? You can either keep striving to be strong on your own OR you can let go, trust Me, and allow Me to get this. Which will it be? Pride or Humility?"

Guys, I am not good at giving up control, but, I gave up at that point!! I was stunned as I realized I had been holding this burden of guilt over Cj's death and didn't even realize it.
I stopped churning water, took off my mask, and asked for help. My friends were awesome, encouraging and supporting me as they quickly signaled our guide who zipped over with a board and both me and my friend who I had been so worried over were able to rest using it as a float as he towed us back to the group of boards.
I was relieved we were both fine, everyone was fine, and we would make it home safely, but, I was so done with the ocean!
I rested on my board, taking in the surroundings, feeling the breeze on my face and the gentle rocking of the board with the waves as the group cheerfully played around me, snapping pictures, etc.

As we headed towards shore a few minutes later, I felt something deep inside shatter and the tears began to stream down my face as I wept over that day. "God, I didn't realize how deep this pain went for me on this. I feel like it is my fault and I have never truly acknowledged this fact. CJ, I am so sorry I wasn't able to save you that day, baby. I am sorry. I am sorry that we have to live without you, that our kids no longer have you. I am sorry that you never got to realize so many dreams and goals. I am sorry that we lost out on life together. I am so sorry."

I pushed the oar through the waves, driving towards the shore, attempting to keep my sobs in check. Then a Voice spoke, whispering quietly through the wind whistling past my ears.

The Voice that gentles my broken heart
The Voice that I hear in my darkest moments; my best moments.
The Voice that my soul knows and my heart hungers to hear.
The Voice of the Lover and Creator of my soul.

::"My daughter, My beloved... this weight is not yours to carry anymore. This pain, this guilt is not of Me. Grieve this and place it into My hands, dear one. You are my beloved, I delight in you. My thoughts are not yours and My ways are beyond your understanding daughter"::

Nothing compares, nothing comes close to His presence. I have experienced and known Him. I welcome Him into my chaos, joy, sorrow; my world. And I am overcome by Him.

His Child ~ His handmaiden ~ Chosen


  1. I'm so very sorry I scared you. I didn't actually think I was going to drowned but without thinking told you how tired I was :(. The fear showed on your face and I knew you where at different moment in time!!! I was grateful for the rescue the water was pretty rough and I would have never left your side. I felt so inadequate to comfort you and ask God how to calm your fears. The words came to me..... Not my will Lord but your will be done unto my life..
    I have never suffered a loss so great as yours, I don't pretend to know your pain. What I do know is you are the most courageous, compassionate and selfless ( women,mother & friend ) and my life is blessed knowing you!!!!! I love you my most beautiful friend. God has a plan for your life and each of your children!!!!! In his time my friend, in his time!!!!

    1. I tired to upload our heroic photo, but was unsuccessful :(

    2. Deanna - my precious friend! There is no apology needed - literally God used you as a tool to bring something to the front that I didn't even know needed to be dealt with! You are a priceless friend - I love you!! :)

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