Nature: an unlikely source for healing.

Photo: Darien Library, flickr creative commons.

Photo: Darien Library, flickr creative commons.

The road to healing from a traumatic loss is a long and difficult journey. It can be emotionally taxing, leaving a person’s heart vulnerable to societal expectations. But it is indeed something we must face - something we must trail within the depths of our souls to understand, something that we must use all our energy to address, and something that we must eventually come to terms with. 

I began a healing journey when I invited an eight-year-old to join me on a path of sisterhood.

Three years prior to that decision, I lost my own sister in a tragic accident. One that left my world turned inside out. It left me scared and afraid, looking at life in a whole different way. The moment she closed her eyes forever, I lost an essential part of my existence, something that could not be filled no matter how many people tried, no matter how many sunsets agreed to kiss the day goodnight, no matter how many ticks of a clock whisked past. I knew I would miss her for the rest of my life.

With a feeling like that, how could I ever trust a sense of stability? How could I ever love someone like the way I loved someone I helped raise? That I pushed on a swing until they could touch the clouds? That I held in a hug during rainy days? That I promised to always protect?  That I swore I would never, ever turn my back on?

One morning, I was helping my mum in our vegetable garden, when I realized how beautiful the circle of life truly is. The earth gives sustenance to the plants. The sun gives them their energy, the sprinkles of rain provide the needed nourishment, and at the end of their lives these plants sacrifice themselves to continue the renewal of other plants. Together, these ingredients provide a stable home with everything plants need to thrive. As I spent the entire summer watching these plants grow and return back to the soil, I realized something else: the beauty of the circle of life can be captured in one’s very own lifetime. It is up to us to ensure that this healing ability is preserved. It is true what they say — “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”        

That simple connection took me on a journey of discovery, where I found much healing from watching and learning from the restorative role of our earth. This connection led me to invite a little girl on a healing journey of sisterhood. I wanted to take my leftover energy and put it toward the growth of another. Taking baby steps, I helped raise another person - push them on a swing until they could touch the clouds, that I could hold in a hug on rainy days, that I could protect, that I would never turn my back on.

Nothing will ever replace the sister that I lost. But the feeling of loving someone unconditionally, is something that comes pretty close.

I have since found a sense of peace in watching nature, spending time observing the rain drip off the petals of that flower, the leaves change color—sweeping the coast with a brush of orange-red.

I don’t know what was different in my heart that day I helped my mum out in the garden, but whatever that connection was, I will forever, for as long as I live, be grateful.