This is a re-post of a memory I shared on my Facebook page on Feb. 25th of this year. Several people have requested that I re-share the post about my falling in El-Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico. I hope it makes you laugh, even at my expense.
Yesterday, a friend and I giggled when I recounted a story about the time I twisted my ankle in the tropical rain forest, El Yunque, in Puerto Rico. If you know me, I always have a story to share but somehow, I had filed away this memory until yesterday. As the Hassans and I (H2 was 4 months old) traveled down El Yunque’s mountainous terrain, I spotted yet another beautiful waterfall. Hassan Kingsberry and I had just finished arguing about something and to his dismay, I wanted to stop again so that I could take yet another picture.
Unfortunately, the picture was never captured because as I stepped out of the car, I tumbled downward after stepping out of the car, on a bed of rocks because there wasn’t a level path to stand on. I assumed that there would be one because I saw the perfect picture. Since I tumbled away from the car in my dress and flip flops (why did I wear a dress to the forest/flip flops anyway—trying to be cute) and Hassan was jamming to some song, he couldn’t hear me as I shouted for his help and cried in pain.
Sadly, he never came to my rescue so I had to crawl/climb back to the car. Did I mention I was wearing a long maxi dress? My feelings were so hurt. I will admit that I was upset because I thought he was purposefully "igging" me. It was funny yesterday to share that story but at the time it was a painful and embarrassing experience. I did learned a few lessons that day:
1. Sometimes, taking a step to get what you want can be a painful experience.
2. Beauty draws you—it’s worth the risk.
3. Know what kind of ground your standing on.
4. Some things are best captured with our eyes v. with our cameras so be in the moment.
5. Don’t argue before taking pictures in a rain forest. You need all eyes/hands on deck.
6. You need the right shoes for any adventure.
Thankfully, we found a CVS and I was able to wrap my ankle up. I enjoyed the rest of our trip even though I had to hobble around.
I will always remember the time I twisted my ankle in El Yunque.
This weekend, we explored the Harris Lake Peninsula Trail, a hiking trail said to be 4.2 miles but for us, it was about 5-miles. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m not as graceful as I’d like to think. You guessed it, I fell down. My poor decision to start running at the suggestion of my five-year old, wasn’t wise—it was against my better judgment. And for a quick minute, we were happy until...I fell—(y’all remember my El Yunque story? I might have to re-post it on this blog.) Too bad it was short-lived.
It was unfortunate that I actually tripped on a very obvious and protruding stump, in the middle of the path. The Hassans, who were leading the way, rushed to my side. Hassan, my husband, helped to get the twigs out of my hair, brushed off the dirt off my body, and then helped me get up once I got myself together and felt well enough to get up. As soon as he figured I was fine, he started giving me his speech. He told me that I needed to watch the path. But the thing was, I really thought I was paying attention to the path! All we wanted to do was catch up to the guys.
As much as I hated listening to his lecture about safety and being careful on this hiking trail, I hated admitting that he was right; I guess I really wasn’t watching. I wanted to get to my destination quickly and disregarded the obvious obstacles. When I was sprawled out on the ground, face down, it wasn’t until I turned myself around and looked up and accepted his helping hand, that I got up.
Sometimes in life, the journey is full of uneven terrains and hurdles and we have to decide the best way to navigate them and how to move forward. If we’re not paying attention, we might stumble and even fall. Sometimes, if we get ahead of ourselves, a fall is inevitable. It’s a good thing that God’s promises that if we do fall, we will get back up again (Ps. 24: 16). And just as Hassan did for me, God’s hand is extended to help us up (Psalm 37: 24). Funny enough one version of this scripture states, “When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand (NASB).” I am encouraged to know that when we are at our lowest point, God will hold our hands through life's situations.
Thankfully, I wasn’t hurt too bad especially since we still had about 3-miles to go. Believe me, Hassan kept stopping to give me more speeches, along the way. I know it's because he loves me. As I stumbled the rest of the way, because the twists and turns didn't stop, I tried to be careful and you know what? I finished the trail at my own pace.
I went back to walking and my picture-taking.
Today, my very dear friend, Katie gave me the most beautiful gift. It was a picture of Amira and Kelyn holding hands. She commissioned the very talented Susan Kelly to make this piece for me. When I unwrapped it, the image immediately brought tears to my eyes and filled my heart with hope. I couldn’t believe my eyes!
Together in heaven.
My heart is in heaven. What a reunion we will have. Can’t wait to see y'all again!
To my sweet friend, thank you! I love you! God knew what my heart needed and used your thoughtfulness and Susan’s beautiful work to comfort my heart. I needed an image of them like this—healed. Standing!
*For more information about Susan's work, go to www.susanwoodard.com
Please support her. She is immensely talented!
Tuesday night, we decided to try a trail we had never walked before—The Tobacco Road Trail for PE. This 23-mile trail is an abandoned railway that stretches between Wake, Chatham, and the southern part of Durham. Not only was the trail beautiful, but it also allowed me to bring this week’s "homeschooling" lesson on shapes, straight v. curved lines, and vertices alive to the kids. They really got into it, to my satisfaction.
Have you ever noticed bent trees and wondered how this came to be? Was it the wind or the rain? Was it the impact of repetitive storms that caused a structural change? Or simply an adaptation made for survival? It’s a fascinating phenomenon that I never considered before. Maybe I was too busy to notice. I guess, I don’t expect trees to bend. It’s quite beautiful and poetic, actually. Like a dancer—so graceful. Humble.
I imagine it took some time for those trees to get that way. It is difficult to yield when it’s not in your nature to do so. Like trees, we may be linear, rigid, inflexible even. And yet, so many trees appear to do just that--bend. Adjust. Surrender.
Reminds me of worship...
In my last meeting with my counselor, he suggested that I may be dealing with something called “Survivor’s Guilt.” Because I am wide awake at three in the morning again, I decided to finally explore what this is. According to Dr. Nancy Sherman, a blogger for “Psychology Today,” this is a continuous cycle of “counterfactual thoughts that you could have or should have done otherwise, though in fact you did nothing wrong.” Another blogger, Dr. Diana Raab, highlights that survivors may be susceptible to this due to unsettled, losses from the past. In short, I may be troubled by the false notion that I could have saved my daughters' lives if...
I have so many "ifs."
If only I had stayed awake a little longer.
If only I had woken up sooner...etc.
The truth is, I had no control over the timing of their deaths. They had rare, incurable/fatal, genetic diseases. In both cases, I was in deep sleep and even in the same room, as they slipped away from this life into eternity. I couldn’t do anything to extend their lives here on earth—here with me—with us, for that matter. I could not heal them. In both cases, once I realized something was wrong, I immediately jumped into emergency mode. Yet, I was rendered powerless against God’s eternal clock.
I realize that I have to stop this "Survivor's Guilt" cycle. I have been and I am traumatized. (Never articulated this to anyone but my husband before.) All I know is that I tried my best.
My invisible limp.
Caveat: 1. I really tried my best to resist the urge for using APA citation (for my academic friends). 2. I still believe...yes, my girls are now forever healed.
This morning, my daughter Keren was upset because she believed that if she used her dry erase marker too much, the one her teacher gave her, she would use it all up and have to throw it away. She knew that this was the fate of dead markers. I was frustrated and told her that markers were meant to be used. She was crying real tears! I couldn't believe what was happening. So you know what I did, right? I gave her a whole, new dry erase marker. Her tears eventually subsided but not until after she asked whether this new, skinnier marker was a dry erase marker.
A few months ago, I started meeting with my counselor again to help deal with grief and the pressures of being a caretaker. I shared a poem with him that I had written about life and the background behind it. After hearing it, he encouraged me to publish it. Although, I’ve not done that yet, I will always remember his encouragement. He said, “Keep writing no matter how dark it may seem because I am certain that God’s light will shine through.” It somehow gave me relief because internally, I don’t think people really want to deal with death or discuss it, for that matter. Maybe, I have been “people” because it is certainly difficult to process.
Don’t worry, if you are one of these “people” my blog will not focus solely on death but hopefully, it will be a commentary on life with all of its joys and pains. However, since my youngest daughter, Kelyn, recently passed, I must admit that I will be processing my thoughts through my writing. I hope that my transparency will help someone who is grieving right now. You are not alone. I am praying for you.
New Jersey Native. Proud Haitian-American. UNC-Chapel Hill (First-Generation College) Graduate. Double Tar Heel who obtained a Doctorate from NC State. Educator. Devoted Daughter and Sister. Loving Wife and Mother. Lover of People. Photographer. Poet. Home Chef. Singer. Worshiper. Preacher and Motivational Speaker. Virtuous Woman. I am who I am by the Grace of God.