My Kayak

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As I type this I am sitting in the San Diego airport preparing to head home to Dallas. The TAPS weekend seminar is over and I am filled with a powerful sense of faith.

I am not sure what I was hoping to get from this weekend, but I am aware that above all things, my faith has been strengthened. TAPS helped me to fully believe that there is life for me after Ian’s death. I firmly believe that God is guiding me on this journey and that He placed my TAPS family in my life so that I will never feel alone.

I am deeply inspired by the survivors I met this weekend: a family six months out who still manages to find happiness after losing their son and brother, an eight-year old girl whose light still shines after the passing of her daddy, the brother who has dedicated his life to building up others after his loss, and the beautiful widow who has found strength to let love into her life again.

These people are such blessings and fountains of hope to my soul.

When Ian took his life I felt that he had taken me with him. It seemed that I was drowning in an ocean of grief and would never learn to swim. My grief therapist often points out that I use the metaphor of water when explaining my pain to her.

When we started, prior to attending any TAPS events, I told her of my ocean. Slowly I have been learning to float through the sorrow, yet have been struggling to stay above water.

This all changed Sunday.

During lunch that last day I decided to do my own self-care and go out on the ocean. I rented a kayak from the hotel dock and took myself a two-hour mental health break.

While I was paddling around enjoying the sunshine and time to think, my grief metaphor became tangible. I became aware that I was moving through the water, my grief, with ease. I was able to think about Ian, feel the loss, grieve it, and still notice the beauty of life surrounding me.

I realized that TAPS was, and is, my metaphorical kayak.

They have provided me with a constant source of hope and faith. This past weekend was unimaginably inspiring. For the first time in six awful months I am floating above water!

I know that my grief ocean is unpredictable and that I am certain to be tossed and turned by large waves, but I feel safe clinging to my fortified faith.

I believe that Ian is cheering me on and that there is a divine purpose for my life; a purpose that Kim and my TAPS family are helping me to faithfully trust and follow.

I cannot fully explain the peace, hope, and faith that now reside within my soul, but I hope others can tell that I was deeply touched by my weekend with TAPS.

If your heart is aching after a loss of a loved one in the military and you are feeling broken, please reach out. There is an unending amount of love, faith, support, hope, and family awaiting you with open arms at TAPS.

Surviving this unimaginable loss, as horrible as it has been, is possible and oddly inspiring with the assistance of my precious kayak.

Rebecca Morrison of Texas was one of two widows Time featured in its July cover story on the surge in Army suicides. Her husband, Captain Ian Morrison, an AH-64 helicopter pilot, died in March.