Friday, August 1, 2014

Facing Tragedy In Search of Healing

For me, the Dominican Republic is a place of great joy and even greater pain.  Most people think of palm trees, beautiful beaches, and wonderful people when they think of the D.R.  While I do think of all those things, I also have painful flashbacks to the most tragic day of my life.  My brother-in-law drowned while he was visiting my husband and me during our Peace Corps service in the D.R. four years ago. 

I remember the feeling of sheer terror when I heard my husband shouting for help from the ocean.  I could hear the fear in his voice over the sounds of the waves crashing the shore.  I remember seeing him and his brother frantically waving their arms. 

I remember running barefoot through a stretch of palm trees in search of help…and praying. 
I remember praying. 

I remember the burning heartbreak and nauseating grief I felt when I returned to the beach and could not find either of them.  I thought we had lost them both. 

I remember the dizzy combination of relief and guilt I felt when I realized my husband was still alive…but his brother was gone. 

I remember anger.  I remember feeling the most intense anger I’ve ever felt. 
Anger at myself. At the island.  At God. 

These memories swirl around my very being and they can engulf me if I let them. So I bury them.  The more gruesome memories are buried deeper still. 

But I’m going back tomorrow.  We are going back tomorrow…and I wonder what it will feel like.  The anger and guilt have subsided, but the sadness of loss remains.  We are going back for my dissertation research, but we are also going back in search of healing.  Going back means returning to a beautiful island that feels like a second home.  It also means staring a nightmare in the face.  There is so much hurt that it often overshadows the beautiful times we shared in the Dominican Republic.  I don’t want that.  I want there to be more beautiful memories.  Deeper friendships.  More good.  So we’re going back in search of healing and happiness.


  1. i don't have good words to share exactly how i'm feeling after reading this... but i do want to say that i love you and that your (and darryl's) bravery and strength is tremendous. to choose healing, to choose to return and face the loss by facing deep emotional and spiritual wounds is one of the hardest things to do. just like losing ricky changed you, this return will change you-- it will transform the way you move in the world.
    rumi wrote, "the wound is the place where the Light enters you." to choose to open your heart will bring healing and joy; it will bring depth and beauty; it will bring even more strength and wisdom-- and all of this will empower and enable you to transform the world around you. because of what you have faced and how you both have decided to move in this moment, you will be blessed and be a blessing to so many and the fruit of your actions will be evident in the beautiful children you are raising and in your work. in the moments when the grief becomes strong, take heart and know that you have the strength to face it-- and with courage and an open heart, allow the love you have for ricky, for each other, for your children and for this world to produce the deep joy, gratitude and peace that transforms brokenness into healing.
    Isaiah 58:8 "Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard."
    i hope these words bless you in the way you have blessed me with what you shared. with love ~e

    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I am sure that I will reference this comment often so I appreciate you taking the time to write it. I love you too, friend!