I’m a Survivor?

I never played ultimate Frisbee in college(shocking, I know considering my clear athleticism), so I was actually quite impressed at the air the leather bound book got got when I hurled it across the room.  It was day two without my sweet Daddy. My caring and thoughtful friend, Bron, sent me a dear sympathy letter along with a book entitled Grief Survivor. I was comforted by her words yet disgusted that I was holding a book with those two ridiculously heavy words on the cover. I retrieved my new Frisbee book.  My tantrum was short lived—time to “hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady” –I was amongst a house full of Southern women bringing casseroles.  Tucking the book back inside the mailer package, I decided I would open it in approximately 363 days.

My father died on Thursday, my mother and I went to the salon on Friday(yes we did. and some stories can only be told in a book), and I returned to work on Tuesday. Kathy texted me on Monday to let me know Brandy had dropped off a gift for me at the office. (Hold up. Did you catch that? Kathy was at the office on Monday. There is where I am about to do that thing where the character comes out of the story and talks to the audience. What is that literary device? And 'aside'? Eh, I was not an English major, so basically, in my theatre terms, this is when the actor breaks the fourth wall)
[Kathy worked alongside me for seven years. I had to fire her and all my coworkers just three weeks prior because of dad's abrupt medical leave, yet she kept showing up to the office.  She continued to work alongside me, not as my coworker, but as my friend.  A friend that was with me at 7:52am on Thursday September 18, 2014 when I answered the phone call from my desk that would change my life.  A friend, who dragged my body(and I ain’t tiny y’all) down three flights of stairs to her car as she cried out loud to Jesus. I do not remember much of the commotion and activity on Thursday as news spread in my hometown.  To say it was a blur would be an understatement.  But there are some moments that I remember so vividly, I feel like I only just lived them yesterday: 
like the one where Kathy and I approached the driveway and I leapt from her Expedition SUV.  I saw my mother sitting like a lost child on the front steps of my childhood home with her Reesie dog in her lap.   I saw Greg Shore in my driveway.  He was there on business.  He is the country coroner.  And I saw Kathy.]

Back to Monday:

With no prompting, Kathy tended to the immediate office needs and was there when Brandy’s gift arrived. She later dropped off the sweetly wrapped present to me. Another dear sympathy card with precious words. Annnnnd that DAMN BOOK! I didn't have the energy to test my Frisbee skills again, so I left it in the bag. I did think I would get it out eventually, because, well, the gift bag was cute, and totally reusable. 

 In the weeks that followed, I spent my days handling dad’s practice and my evenings in a haze of chardonnay.  I did not have time for grief. I was staying with my mother in Anderson, and we developed a nightly routine of sifting through the piles of mail.  We loved the comforting words and letters of friends, but I took the greatest pleasure in trashing the glossy “our life is a J. Crew catalog” Christmas magazines that taunted us daily.  One night, as I sat in dad's recliner, I noticed a mysterious package addressed to me. Enclosed was a very long letter from a woman I do not even know. She had heard of my father's passing.  She said she felt compelled to send me a copy of a book she had journeyed through herself. She said she got my folks address and mailed it off, hoping it would reach me. I pulled the book out. Yep. My very own THIRD copy of Grief Survivor. Perhaps third time is a charm, or maybe I am just not a quick study, but I realized at that moment that this book was meant to be read, by me. This stranger, my sister in Christ, had followed the Lord's tug at her heart and given me a gift beyond what she or I knew. 

That evening, I cracked open the book I never wanted to read. And you know what? It didn't actually disgust me. In fact, it was the opposite. It was hopeful and helpful. It was comforting and kind. And it left room for me to write my own words of sorrow, guilt, anger, and loss.

 The story isn’t over…

A week or so later, I told this book tale to my friend Laura.  She smile and ever so freely replied, "Oh, that's great. The author is a friend of mine, and I actually roomed with her daughter in college. She is speaking in the area next week, you should go. I'll go with you." Come, again? I couldn't go that day, however, because of work obligations. "That's cool, I will just text her and see when her next speaking engagement is." Um, ok. Awesome. This is definitely more promising than going back to my Bob Newhart grief center. The book had already ministered to me so immediately, so I was stoked at the idea of an event. 

My friend texted me later, "Don't be weirded out if you get a text from Beth(the author), she really just wants to meet you in person and hang out. She is fab and she is a writer so I feel like you two will get along great."

Within days, I found myself across the table from a woman who knows loss and grief, but who also understands hope, healing, and yes, being a "grief survivor." She met me exactly where I was, with sensitivity, warmth, and a listening ear. We shared our stories, we shared our pain, and we shared our hope. The only real Hope. Our God. She reflected to me that hope He gives us. She embodied where the story can take us, if we allow it. To new depths and dimensions of the complete and total Sovereignty of God. To new found joys and fulfillment in a life as a child of God. 

The events of this story I never intended to be a character in are happening faster than I can write. My pain is real. My loss is real. But MY GOD IS REAL. 

Thank you all for reading, and come back, for God is composing 'new chapters' everyday for me, and for you! 

cue Destiny's Child "I'm a Survivor"

 {originally published 11.20.14 on www.DorothyCamak.com}

 UPDATE: {7.30.15}

 It should be made known that God is the author that DOES NOT QUIT.  The book that I originally hurled across the room is the tool that God used to bring Beth into my life.  Yes, the Beth who is my guest on Episode 2 of Convos2Connect.  Check it out if you or someone you know has been touched by grief.  We have some fun and laughs too, so join us!

Watch below or go to Episode Page(includes links and show notes.)