There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you. -Maya Angelou
We all have stories to tell. From the ordinary to the extraordinary.
But what happens when the storyteller is gone? What happens to their vision, their voice? Do their stories die along with them?
When my daughter passed away the world became a smaller and sadder place. Only her ashes remained. Some here with us and some back in Virginia with her biological family. A sad and painful reminder of a life that was way too short. A little girl who will remain eternally young. Never to grow old. Painful silence where laughter lived.
But was her story really over?
Simple requests came. Tell us about the little girl who loved unicorns, red plastic lawn chairs, and kicking doctors.
Tell us about her sass and how she pretty much ran the world from her little corner of the earth.
I didn’t know if I could, honestly. Everything was raw and hurt so very much. But I decided to try. I knew that even though she was gone I could still educate others on how those with disabilities can very much lead a vibrant life.
It started out small because all I could feel was small. Little stories. Quick bites. Stories that made me laugh when I remembered them because I needed to laugh so I could start healing.
Then came longer stories and podcasts where I started talking about her life. I started telling more of her story. I told about the funny times and started talking about the hard times. Because I needed to share that life has many dimensions.
Now I am telling her story on a larger scale. I stood in a room full of people at our local children’s hospital and shared her life, her struggles, and her passing. Because more people need to know about her. The room was dead silent when I finished.
My son said he had never seen so many women weeping over their Panera salads in his life.
In August I will present her story to the Board of Directors at the same hospital. Marvin told me to make sure that they didn’t have any salad.
Let me clarify, I don’t tell her story to make people cry. I tell her story so she can live on and continue to make a deep impact on the world around her. I tell her story so people can see the ability and not the disability. I tell her story because part of her lives on in me. And she becomes part of you once you hear her story. And maybe, that part of her that you carry will help change your world for the better. Just like the part of her that I carry changed the world for me.