dream of paradise

One year ago today I was on a twelve hour flight home from Jerusalem. I spent Christmas there with my family. My whole family except for Alyssa.166840_10150358072405621_886405620_16638913_8317962_n

I think if I would have known what this year was going to be like I may have just stayed there in the Holy City, selling braided hairpieces in the market place.166212_10150355484215621_886405620_16573179_7480345_n

To say that this year has been an emotional roller coaster would be a gross understatement. In a lot of ways, 2011 has not been nice to me. I lost a dad, a sister, the sense of security, the life I was familiar with, and the ability to move my right eyebrow. I have dealt with intense pain, both physical and emotional.

Yet at the same time, this year has brought the greatest amount of happiness and peace I can ever recall experiencing. My absolute favorite part of this year was this time period. We were moving. Things were unstable and my dad had recently removed himself from our family. Still, those things didn’t affect the fun we had. I was just home from school and everyone was so supportive and we lived in five different houses and I was surrounded by people and things that made it impossible to be sad. I’m so glad that I started documenting things, so that I can look back and see how much I loved every minute of it—our last days in Florida, the beautiful things we saw as we started driving out west to a life that was going to be even more unexpected than we thought.This was the last post I wrote before the accident and I can’t believe how ironic the title is. That was the most content I’d ever been in my life, and those are the bittersweet days I like to reflect on at the close of this year.IMG-20111225-02387

I have learned so much this year. I have learned what it really means to feel peace—and it was truly put to the test when I was lying in a hospital bed being told that my sister was dead. Never have I been so calm, so certain that my little Jada was safe and happy.

I have learned so much about friendship and love. There has been such an outpouring of love from every direction from the beginning of this year—when people performed miracles to get our house sold and to get us started on our journey—right up until the end—where I’m currently living with people who have sacrificed so much to get me here and to help me get on my feet.

I’ve gained perspective on heartbreak and tragedy. I learned that you can never understand what others’ pain feels like. To this day I still can’t understand what pain other people who’ve lost a sister are going through. I can try to empathize, but the way people feel and respond to loss and injury are so unique, so unpredictable, and the best thing to do is just love and support them through it all.

I have learned so much about humility. Humility in the stop-being-prideful way—just when I thought I knew about sadness and loss, BAM. Slammed with more sadness and loss, times ten. Humility in the I-don’t-deserve-to-even-associate-with-nice-people kind of way: I am consistently astounded at the things people have done for me—things which I absolutely, positively do not deserve. People that move mountains for me which I can’t move for myself. People who are patient and loving and kind and patient and more patient. People who cry with me, who cry for me, who pour their hearts out in prayer because that’s the only thing they can do. People whose parents cry and pray for me—parents that I don’t even know. That’s especially touching. People who—without knowing me or my family personally—donated thousands and thousands of dollars to the black hole that is our medical bills. People who drive me across the country, who open their homes to me and offer to help me with whatever I need. For friends who are like family and for family who treats me like a friend. I will never, ever, ever be able to thank everyone enough.IMG-20111228-02414

I’m really going all out for the new year—staring a new year in a new place. IMG-20111226-02410

I spent fifteen hours in a car relocating my worldly possessions to a new state, surrounded by mountains and Mormons. As much as I'm worried about the way things are going to work out, deep down I'm a little bit excited. it's totally cliché, but there's something perfect about starting a new year completely fresh. It feels natural to start this year this way; to let some of the tragedies of the last 12 months slip away. To let go of things that will never stop hurting—things like loss and abandonment and injustice and betrayal. To take in a deep breath of this dry, icy air and to strengthen my resolve to keep going.

If nothing else, this year I've learned what people really mean when they say "it's going to be okay". They don't mean things will go back to normal. Your sister won't come back from the dead, your dad can’t fix the damage he’s done, and you'll never forget what pain and sorrow feels like. All it means is that someday, when you've cried and been angry and been hurt and vulnerable and enraged at the constant unfairness of life, something will change. Something will bring you hope. Having hope makes all the difference. Hope means maybe life can start to be good, maybe there will be some sunshine—just a day or two at a time, maybe things can bring you peace and happiness in a different way. It never works out the way you expect it to, but whatever brings you that sliver of hope is enough. And ladies and gentleman, as I start this new year, I have hope.


[Title from Paradise by Coldplay]


  1. Oh Brid! You made me cry. I love this post. I love the honesty & the hope through the sadness. After we talked that night a few months ago, I wrote a similar post, but never posted it. Yours is so much better! I'm so happy for you and so excited and hopeful that this new year will bring you more peace than you can imagine and SO much laughter!

  2. This post made me tear up. It was beautiful. I love you, Bridian!

  3. I am so glad to hear your hope for the New Year!

    Glad your trip to Utah was safe and uneventful.

  4. this my fave post yet. loved it and love you!!!!

  5. And cried. p.s. visit me - i love you

  6. Email me your address for some care packages. Happy New Life. Love David O.

  7. Elizabeth Schwab GaertnerJanuary 1, 2012 at 7:58 PM

    How much I love and admire you, Bridian. What a post! I've cried, and cried... and then rejoiced and rejoiced for your strength to carry on and make the best of your life.

    Keep smiling! You are absolutely amazing in soooooooooooooo many way.

    Tons of hugs,
    Elizabeth Schwab Gaertner

  8. I found your blog through Living In Yellow and I LOVE your writing style, your honesty, your zest for life and your hair :) Thank you for sharing.

  9. uhm, those are really cute bras.

    I know this is probably an inappropriate time to tell you...