…by Julie Clark Robinson
“”I need some distraction, oh beautiful release. Memory seeps from my veins . . . let me be empty and weightless and maybe I\’ll find some peace tonight.” –Sarah McLachlan

I\’m the one with all the so-called answers about creating joy for every day – even the shitty ones. I\’m what the publishing industry is quick to slap the label of “expert” on in order to sell books. I wrote a book called “Live in the Moment” and have spoken (and written) to women\’s groups everywhere about overcoming obstacles to our personal joy. But, if I\’m to be honest, I can\’t find a positive spin to put on what my family is going through right now. The sudden, shocking, gut-wrenching death of one of our own – my beautiful, barely sixteen year-old niece Sarah Elizabeth Brown.

            I\’ve written the obituary; handled the multitude of press stories that come when a promising, young honors student dies in a car crash and then ends up being an organ donor; and delivered the eulogy. Now what? I\’m sadder than I\’ve ever conceived of. My sister is numbly waiting for her only daughter to come through the front door. And I have a column to deliver.

            My so-called coping mechanisms from my chapter on Death and Dying have failed me. My ability to handle “just about anything that life throws my way” has failed me. If a radio producer called me right now and asked me to spew my infinite wisdom on a morning drive radio show, I\’d have to decline. I have nothing clever, or funny, or insightful to share. I\’m a personal growth author whose niece will never grow beyond sixteen years and fifteen days. I\’m a personal growth author with a broken woman for a sister. I\’m a personal growth author who knows she should feel joy for the little boy who received Sarah\’s heart or the kids who got a new lease on life with her kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and corneas, but I just want Sarah back to marvel over. I didn\’t see her often because of the mileage between us, but I knew she was on this earth with us doing her teenage thing. I couldn\’t wait to see her evolve into a woman and I looked forward to being a voyeur into the life she would create for herself as only a visiting aunt can do.

            One thought occurs to me. Maybe “living in the moment” means even the shitty ones. I\’ve tried to function — to go to my son\’s basketball games, to buy groceries. I cry and can\’t wait to get back to my nest where I can hurt openly. Maybe “living the moment” means giving in and allowing myself to wallow in this grief that has taken over my heart. Maybe even life\’s shitty moments have purpose – they give us something to measure our good days by. This sucks but I have to believe that the human spirit will prevail and there are days ahead that won\’t. Other people have survived this, we can too. I\’m not sure how yet, but I do know that we must follow our instincts and give in to what our bodies are telling us to do. My sister is lying in bed. My mom is doing her laundry and making soup. I\’m delivering my column.

Action Exercise: Before your teenager steps foot in someone else\’s car, be the dork and ask if their friend is a good driver. Ask if they have side-impact bags. Ask if they speed. If they have cars that you don\’t feel are safe, make your kids stay out of them. If you don\’t know the driver\’s reputation, find out. Piss your kid off of you have to. Your teenager may be the best driver of all, but that won\’t help much if they are a passenger in someone\’s car who isn\’t.