At the age of 51, I finally understand who I am and what I am here to do. This didn’t arrive in a great whooshing epiphany, more like bits and pieces of a puzzle coming together over a period of decades.
The earliest clue I was given was when I was 9 years old. I wrote a book called “The Crocodile Who Couldn’t Cry” and it won the Young Author’s contest. From then on, my Mom would work into any conversation that her daughter was a published writer and her book could be found on the shelves of every public library in the state of Michigan. She was so proud.
Another big piece arrived when I ended my all-consuming career in the music industry. I discovered I wanted a life instead of a career. So I set about reinventing myself. I removed the music from my resume and left the marketing. Instead of marketing music stars and cars and countless other big brands, I started working with brands you’ve never heard of.
One of my biggest challenges in life led to one of my greatest inspirations: the ten years that my husband and I tried desperately to bring a child into our empty, open, infertile arms. I was lost and confused and began a spiritual quest; seeking answers to questions that were bigger than me. Back then I wanted to read about someone - anyone - who was going through what I was and still had a happily-ever-after ending.
There wasn’t anyone talking about infertility back then. I suffered alone and pretty much took my marriage to its brink in the process. But I made a promise to myself that one day I would tell my story. (highlighted here: “People Smile and Tell Me I’m the Lucky One.”)
When our adopted daughter was born, I was so elated I started writing again to share my heart-felt joy. It was a blog before we called them blogs. A mentor I had at the time told me I needed to write a book. “What would I write about?” I said. “Your journey to your daughter.” he replied. His vote of confidence went a long way in bolstering mine. I had been harboring thoughts of writing a book for some time, silently answering the question: If time and money were no object, what would you be doing? Writing, I would whisper in my mind.
Tiny drops of courage were germinating deep within as a result of the feedback I received from that blog. I saved every single comment to read and reread them as needed and posted many on my website because they meant that much to me. This played an enormous role in my thinking I might actually be capable of writing things that people were interested in reading.
The little voice inside became louder as time went by. I signed up for a nine-month woman’s program and told the founder that my goal was to lose the title “marketer” and replace it with “writer.”
One of the biggest scars in my life - the loss of my dad - inspired me to create the foundation of kindred: Eight individual true stories around a one-word anthology, the first being “perseverance.” I sat alone in my grief a lot that year, slowly becoming more aware that I am a feeler, an intuitive and an emotional creature. The antithesis of the ego-driven career woman I once was. The one who identified with what she did versus who she was.
Of course I had to endure more than just my personal trials, so I was rendered helpless in the face of tragedies as they unfolded one right after the other: a dying friend who’s bone marrow donor backed out; another friend who’s suicide shattered his young family. I wanted to scream from the rooftops and shed light on the injustice of their situations. Instead I held it in my heart and vowed to tell their stories one day.
Looking back from today’s vantage point I can see clearly that everything happened exactly as it should. I had to experience enough to feel empathy for those events that throw you off your course and stop you in your tracks - when life as you know it ceases to exist and a new one must be made. I had to feel it or I couldn’t write about it authentically. I had to be made to feel helpless in the face of someone else suffering beyond my comprehension so that I could figure out ways in which I could make a difference going forward. It was all purposeful. It was all intended to put me here, today.
In this most recent evolution, I have persevered through fear and doubt and insecurity that goaded me in my office in the early hours of the morning when the house was silent. I lived nervously off our savings, turned away work and invested in the vision I had in my head. I hit the “go” button in August, launching kindred a year and four months after I had begun. Yet only now do I realize that what I have created was a lifetime in the making.
My mom died recently and before she did, she gave me a card. On the envelope she had written: To Kerrie, The Writer. I was astounded. She knew nothing about my attempts to reinvent myself, or kindred. I have the envelope on my desk. I’d like to think that somehow she knew. She knew all of it. Even if it took me a lifetime to discover. I’ve always been a late bloomer, haven’t I Mom?
I held onto my secrets for years. Decades, actually. And there are many reasons why. Reasons that anyone who has endured it — lived it — will understand. But only those who have endured it — lived it — will.
I’m writing this for everyone else.
I love you, but I’ve got to let you go.
Each time our paths cross I open my heart with renewed hope that it will be different somehow. And each time I walk away feeling empty.
My dear (____________), I realize now that at some point, I gave away my power to you. I was rebuilding my life, creating it piece by piece, and in all of its uncertainty and tender roots, I shyly let a chosen few in to tread softly and take a peek. I wanted to share my trepidation and fear and doubt and exhilaration and sheer anticipation with you. So I gave you permission to validate me. In no small way I longed for it. But it never came.