“I want every soul here at this table to look at each other.
These are the faces of courage. You all now fit into that rare class of experience known as survival.
You are now survivors.”
These were the words spoken over me as I gripped my brother’s hand with my left and held my newborn baby with my right. My parents and my sister, just adjacent to me with their heads in their hands. There I sat pressed in on all sides by loves’ remains - minus one. It was the first meeting, the first stepping out into truth that this tragedy had actually happened and I…we…were in desperate need of those who have been here before. We were searching for hope hidden within stories. Hope that we will make it out of this tragedy, somehow. The words this group leader spoke over us became a truth I had to walk into and accept as my own story.
People don’t set out to become survivors. It does not work that way. Surviving is passive. It results from something that happens to you. When we hear this descriptor what usually comes to mind is not some amazing achievement, but the most basic one; staying alive. Survivors may possess the will to live, but they do not possess a power over the circumstance which brings life near end. They are acted upon. In our case the intruder was death. Not our own, but that of a family member. Not just death, but the taking of a life. Not just the taking of his life. But by his own hands. And in this there was the hardest of realities to face; the absence of closure. Death without reason. But, we were alive.
This is a story no one ever wishes to enter into. Such is the case with the stories of pain and tragedy. But, this is my story. I own it. The greatest of all stories are filled with reluctant pain. Suffering is no short story. It is life’s epic. We all have one and we are all part of one. It is the foundation of our humanity. It is what connects us all; one generation to the next. We live in a time where there are so many stories yet to be told. We are desperate for them. This is because we are despairing of hope. We need to read the record of those who have survived. A hope to be heard. And a hope to be seen. Living breathing testimonies of “you will live to tell about this.” And so are you.
Ever since my brother died near five years ago now, I have been drawn to the courageous stories of women around me. It was the stories of women around me that gave me hope when I could not find it on my own. It was the story of hope’s survival that pushed my soul above the surface. It was here that I filled my heart with the fresh air of grace and hope. These women lifted me above despair. Women who have known the depth of pain and the sobering reality of tragedy - and lived to tell about it. Women who have known great trials and loss in their life - and lived to tell about it. I believe in the power of story. I believe in real stories of surviving, tragedy, empowerment, and hope and I want you to feel the transformational power of bravery and vulnerability as well.
A rising tide lifts all boats. All we have truly have is art and story to remind us of the ocean of hope and courage held within us all.
WHAT IS SHE RISES?
SHE RISES will be a published book full of the voices of women who have an inspirational, true story that points other women not only to the power and freedom of hope but also to the bravery of vulnerability. I want stories that are raw, vulnerable, and against status quo. Stories that invite others to feel deeply and walk-in another woman’s shoes for a moment. Stories that help others remember the pure essence of our humanity.
Join me in the RISE, help me show how survival rides on bravery, hope, and the stories we pass down.