Today was the first day of the Sorrow to Strength conference here in DC. We met in a conference room of the hotel and got to know each other a little bit, then listened to a media specialist give advice on handling reporters and doing interviews. She reminds us that we don’t have to be experts on statistics and safety issues, that all we need to do is tell our stories and stay focused on our message. Good advice. We’re just regular people not used to press reporters or television cameras. I was thinking that we should all watch politicians and learn from them; they never seem to answer the questions asked of them, and they always stay on task with their preplanned message.
Later in the day we heard from a grief specialist, Kathleen O’Hara. I feel a connection to Kathleen because my sister found her book several years ago and that’s how she came to work with the Truck Safety group. We are lucky to have her. She works with new families and helps them get set up with local grief counseling She was amazing. She talked about how grief changes over the years and where to find sources of strength, both from within ourselves and from outside.
At the end of the day the whole group walked over to Georgetown and took a sunset river cruise. We held a remembrance ceremony on the boat, where people told stories about their lost loved ones and we laughed and cried. We were each given a paper boat and Kathleen told us to think about our person, make a wish and let the little boats drift free down the river. It was a beautiful and unspeakably sad moment.
Dad was a water person, he grew up on the Huron River and lived on or near water all his life. He and Mom went out on the lake often in the evenings to watch the sun set. The neighbors tell us that after she died he went out in the boat alone every night at sunset. So I felt a special connection with Dad tonight as we floated on the Potomac…as I watch my little paper boat float away.
Today was good. Kathleen reminds us to see the good in what we have left, to not dwell entirely on what we lost. Today I am reminded that I have a lot of good left…and the people at this conference are some of the very best of my life.
Hugs to all of them. May we always have the support of each other as we float down this river of hope toward our new tomorrows.