By Lisa Appelo
God's Brave Women - Lisa's Story
When life falls apart it also opens the door to new fear.
For most of my life, I had a variety of fears. I worried something might happen to my children or that one of us might get an unwanted diagnosis. But most of those fears were remote. When I really stopped to look at them, the chance of any of them happening was slim. When I realized how unlikely they were, I could easily move past the fears.
... Until several years ago when my husband suddenly passed away.
He was 47 years old. The possibility that Dan might die in the throes of raising our children had never even occurred to me and now it was a reality I was walking out.
When the unthinkable becomes a reality, it also opens the door to all kinds of new fear.
I feared for my children’s health. I feared they might act out in response to grief, or get angry or stuck in their grief. I worried about our finances and felt despair for the first time ever as I looked at the bleak, black hole that was my future
I was overwhelmed with single parenting and countless decisions and figuring out finances and fixing the broken water heater. I felt alone, fragile and vulnerable.
Although I’d wanted to take my kids to see the Grand Canyon for years, after Dan died, I just didn’t have it in me to do it alone. Twice I planned the trip and twice I found excuses to cancel it. We’d be starting in Florida and the driving, logistics and distance felt too big and too far to take on by myself.
But staying home wasn’t risk-free either. My husband had died in bed on the pillow next to mine. While life as I knew it had fallen apart, bravely moving forward was one of the ways it could fall together again.
"While life as I knew it had fallen apart, bravely moving forward was one of the ways it could fall together again."
So, still dreaming of an epic family trip to the Grand Canyon, I made new plans. I nearly caved and canceled, but I determined to simply do it afraid.
I rented a car, packed up my kids and drove 2,064 miles across the country to the Grand Canyon. We drove the bridges stretching across the bayous of Louisiana, gawked at the cargo ships lining the Mississippi, confirmed everything really is bigger in Texas and discovered endless horizon on the treeless deserts of Arizona.
We spent several days at the Grand Canyon, hiking the perimeter one day and braving blustery March winds the next to hike as much of the icy trail winding down into the canyon as we could.
That smile in our picture isn’t because we checked something off a bucket list. I’m smiling straight down to my bones because of the big victory over real fear that had been holding me back.
It doesn’t seem very brave now as I look back, but that’s the thing about facing new challenges – they often seem harder as we face them than they do as we walk through them or look back at them.
Something surprising happened after that Grand Canyon trip. I felt stronger, less fragile and ready to face other new challenges.
One brave step inspires more brave steps.
"One brave step inspires more brave steps."
Getting to the Grand Canyon wasn’t just a victory over that particular fear but a catalyst that helped me tackle other new things. I found parts of me I didn’t know existed. I learned that I can handle all the driving and that I thrive in adventure and discovery with my kids.
That trip reawakened parts of me that had been buried with my husband. I had also buried our dreams, my hopes for the future and my expectations of what life would look like.
Now, instead of lamenting over old memories, we created new family memories. I embraced doing things alone that I’d always expected my husband and I would do together.
I gave myself permission to go after life proactively, after years of responding to it in grief. Moving forward in grief couldn’t happen only by letting go of the life we’d had. I also needed to take hold of life as it was now.
"I gave myself permission to go after life proactively, after years of responding to it in grief. Moving forward in grief couldn’t happen only by letting go of the life we’d had. I also needed to take hold of life as it was now."
Brave steps meant shaping new dreams and finding hope for a future that looked different but could be just as full and beautiful as the life we’d had.