It was a casual acknowledgement but one that triggered an epic realization. The woman who said it was only an acquaintance. Walking in a hall, she headed toward me and stopped. “You look good,” she said. “I don’t know what is different about you, but you really look good.”
There it was. An inadvertent comment that triggered my brain’s hippocampus to play back memories like a slideshow presentation.
What was different about me? When had our last encounter been? After dad? Mom? Divorce? Drawing the conclusion it must have been after Adam, the memory of when she last saw me emerged.
I was smileless, heartbroken and barely holding on. Despite the fog of grief that had receded, the pieces of my shattered life still hadn’t been reassembled. Poor posture, low confidence, saddened and energyless, I was a hollowed emptiness covered by my body shell.
It showed. She remembered.
In running, Coach trained me to never look back. It signals fear and initiates a negative shift in mindset. Always focus forward. “Sorry, Coach.” Unfortunately in life immediately proceeding loss, although hard, emotional, excruciating and sometimes paralytic, the lookback is unavoidable. Sadly then, my eyes could only focus on the life that wasn’t. A future lost. I wasn’t okay looking back.
It’s true. I am different now. Next to my losses I carry hope and a vision of a new future. My forward gaze now occurs at longer intervals than my glances back. Internally, I’m stronger, more courageous and brave. I feel it. I laugh loudly and smile more. Coach did instill advice directly applicable to life. “Never stop moving. Never give up.” With conscious focus, drive, and a steady pace, I’ve rebuilt the pieces into the shape of my new life. I’m happy.
It shows. She sees what I feel.
It makes sense that I am different now. With all that has happened, how could I be the same? But for those of you not there yet, I am proof. There are smiles on the horizon. One day, you will have moved forward enough to be okay with looking back.
Kim Libertini is all too familiar with grief and the Co-Founder of Goodgrief App, the social network for loss available for less than a latte, for download in the App Store, Google Play and www.goodgriefapp.com. You can follow Goodgrief App on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.