This morning I’m sitting some fifteen feet up in the air surrounded by woods, near the northern border of Arkansas, and it seems no accident that the book I brought with me to read is titled "The Gifts of Imperfection".
A few days ago, Mike and I made the 14 hour drive down to Eureka Springs. Why? To stay in a treehouse cottage, which has always been a dream of mine.
This isn’t just any random dream though, this one, has a a great personal meaning to my story with life, loss, and living again. You see, the year Drew died… he and I were coming up with ideas for my birthday that fall. We talked about going to the Grand Canyon. And also about one other place, the treehouse cottages, here in Eureka Springs, AR. I can still remember so clearly researching this place with him… finding their website and looking through pictures and being so overjoyed that it was really not a very far drive from Dallas, where Drew and I lived. Our plan was, if we couldn’t swing a trip to the canyon that fall, that we would instead book a trip to the tree houses.
That plan never happened of course, because the crash happened instead, 3 months before my birthday. While I did end up making that trip to the Grand Canyon after all - with Drew’s mom - the treehouse cottage trip was lost… vanishing amidst the heaviness of grief. It has sat in the back of my heart all these years, gathering dust, until now.
I spent last weekend in Melbourne with about a dozen very dear friends. These women have only been in my life for a couple of years now, however it feels like I’ve known them my whole life. They see my soul, in its most bare and vulnerable state, a way that people who have known my most of my life will never understand.
These are my widow sisters. Women who I found when I was thrown into the deepest pain I could imagine, who were battling the storm beside me, trying not to drown. We clung to each other, lifting each other up for air at a time when we were all so close to sinking into the darkness.
We have spent countless sleepless nights sharing thoughts and emotions that our other family and friends could never fully understand. We have shared tears of sadness on the difficult days and celebrated each other’s successes when we’ve taken positive steps forward. The conversation is always easy and open. We have no need to hide or wear a mask with each other.
"Eight years ago today, Soaring Spirits was founded.
The idea for this organization was written on a napkin.
Personal experience inspired each of our founding board members to agree to serve.
We felt sure that hope mattered, that access to hope could change the lives of widowed men and women.
Together we set about creating a space built for widowed people, by widowed people.
And then, person by person, email by email, event by event, conversation by conversation...we discovered the true power of hope and community.
We love widowed people. We believe in widowed people. We work for widowed people. We learn from widowed people.
Thank you for sharing your lives, your loves, your successes, your failures, your thoughts, your feelings, your dreams with us.
Walking this road with you for the past eight years has been an honor, and YOU fuel our passion for serving the widowed people of tomorrow."
- Michele Neff Hernandez, Founder and Executive Director of Soaring Spirits International