Updated: Nov 11, 2021
October 2, 2006 was a day that changed our lives forever. A day that our country lost an incredible young hero, as he gained his wings while serving this beautiful country. It was a tragic day that none of us will ever forget.
Sgt. Joe Perry was one my little brother’s best childhood friends. One of those friends that always had your back no matter what. When my little brother passed in June of 2006, Joe was serving in Iraq & thankfully was able to get leave to come home for Kurt’s funeral. Little did we know that quick, horribly sad trip would be the last time that we saw his beautiful face.
Kirsten is one of my very dearest friend’s & Joe was her only son. Together, we have built an unbreakable bond because we were able to build that bond while we were in the depths of soul-searching & trying to find peace within ourselves. Our journey of grieving together has turned into one of the most beautiful roads of gratitude that I could ever imagine.
Every day I am deeply grateful for the connection that those two beautiful boys brought us & this is where my journey of gratitude started….
It is important to read Kirsten’s story because as we are getting ready to wrap up our 7 Day Gratitude Challenge I want you to really embrace what you have to be grateful for each & every day. I don’t want any of you to have to suffer the terrible tragedies that we suffered in order to understand how important living a life of gratitude is. How gratitude can change your lives.
Kirsten’s story of courage & strength is remarkable. She has been an inspiration for me each & every day. Please take the time to embrace gratitude today & all that you have to be grateful for in your lives. Take time to tell someone how appreciative you are of them & how much you love them. Hug someone, laugh, love & be present. You can do it in honor of her son Sgt. Joe Perry.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this story of incredible courage & her journey from pain to gratitude.
Much love to you all,
Soul Connections: How Can You Become Deeply Grateful? Follow Your Pain
One of the most profound sentences ever written is the sentence that begins Charles Dickens’ classic novel A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….” It is a statement that seems to contradict itself, yet it is a core truth in our lives because it is in our darkest of times that we can find the greatest beauty…if we follow our pain to gratitude.
My Worst Time:
It was Monday, October 2, 2006, a typical Monday, the start of another busy week filled with meetings. I went through the day as I did any other, well sort of. It was those symptoms of a heart attack that were nagging me: that feeling of a 25 pound weight on my chest; that feeling that my breathing wasn’t quite normal; that anxiety…but I had to go to work. I had meetings that I “couldn’t” reschedule.
When I got to work, I called one of my co-workers and told her my symptoms. I wanted someone to know “just in case” and then I went about my day. During one of my meetings, a teacher asked how my son was doing. He was on his second deployment to Iraq.
I said, “No news is good news.”…And that night the news came.
It was Monday evening at about 7:30 when “they” knocked on the door. My son had been killed in action. My soul was shattered and the world that I had known, that place that was stable and “normal” and safe and good, ceased to exist. I now had to plan my only child’s funeral and try to pick up the pieces of a life that had exploded with the bullet that killed my son.
But it was that moment, that pain, that propelled me to new level of consciousness and being.
Most of us take each day for granted. We go through the motions of our lives with routines. Our routines give us stability and make our lives feel predictable. But routines can create a state of automaticity: a state in which we don’t have to think or even really be conscious of our actions or ourselves. It is when our routines cease to exist that we become acutely aware; we have to pay attention in order to survive.
After October 2, 2006, every day was an exercise in survival, an exercise in trying to live side-by-side gut-wrenching emotion and “practical” decisions about A FUNERAL FOR MY CHILD. It felt like insanity and I was desperately trying to grab hold of anything that would make the world make sense.
My survival strategy was to sit on outside on the patio. I sat on the patio day after day just trying to focus on my breathing and maintain composure. Staying focused on breathing forced me to become more conscious of the present moment and that lead to a greater awareness of the peace and tranquility that nature can bring to the soul. But, it wasn’t easy.
Living through each day was like learning to walk again.
I made a pact with myself. I would take small positive steps forward each day; but, making positive forward motion was like trying to drive through a fog bank (something that we in San Diego have a season of). Each day was its own obstacle. I decided that if I could get out of bed, take a shower and have a cup of coffee, then I had achieved positive forward motion, and that was enough…some days it still is.
“Learning to walk again” was excruciating. It was slow and painful and seemed like an insurmountable task but, somehow, I did learn to walk again and what I learned was this:
When we are young and learning to walk, we move through the world slowly. That slow motion allows us to explore the world with great awareness and consciousness, to feel the rhythm of our movement through it, and to secure our connection within it. As we get our bearings and gain stability, we learn to run and we race through our lives becoming less conscious and paying less and less attention to the beauty around us.
It is the obstacle in our path, the crisis that stops us in our tracks, the tragedy that knocks us down and takes away our balance that creates the perfect storm for the reawakening of consciousness and a new beginning in our lives.
My Deepest Gratitude:
It was Monday, October 2, 2006, NOT a typical Monday. I awoke with the symptoms of a heart attack but also with a communication from my son: a vision flash filled with the most profound essence of light and love.
I ended my day like no other: with my greatest tragedy at my doorstep, with soul-shattering loss and with my life changed forever. But,
…it was the shattering of my life that awoke my soul.
It set in motion something beautiful: a new level of consciousness and a journey into a deeper appreciation of each day, an awareness of the beauty in the world and of the beauty that lies within each one of us.
Yes, it was the worst of times, but out of it came the greatest of gifts: A gift of love, appreciation and gratitude given to me by my son.
Follow your pain