She Let Go — In Her Time

Author: Nicole Crans

Planning for my departure to the TAPS Women's Empowerment Retreat in Sedona, Arizona, I struggled with an enormous amount of fear. I kept asking myself, "Why did I sign up to go on this trip? What exactly were these people going to expect me to say and do?" The fear got so intense I began to do what I often try to do - plan.

Sedona - Nikki

The first day, I felt fear and worry for what was coming next. I soon discovered that all these women were just like me; they have felt an enormous amount of pain. And they had lost their fiances, spouses, children and siblings, just like me. As I began to slowly open up through stories of my beloved fiance, Brian, I realized I was among women who truly understand the pain I have experienced for the past 10 years.

I have spent the past 10 years exerting energy into helping others and focusing on my education. Everyone on the outside thought I was strong and assumed I had moved on. In my mind, I thought everything was fine too, and I even convinced myself if I followed my plans my life would turn out OK. But by forcing life to happen to me, I was not living it. Then, a year ago, my then-husband asked me for a divorce, and two weeks later my sweet Oma died. She was the woman I looked up to when I was little, and she taught me so much. She used to say, "We're all connected, some by blood, all by love."

I felt connected to the women on this trip through our loved ones who passed. And with each story that was shared, every warm embrace and every tear we shed we began to grow closer. I learned from these women, and like one woman said, our theme song is Alicia Keys' "Girl on Fire." Through the week, we felt empowered by our leaders and each other.

And with this trip, I let go of my fear. Coincidentally, it was during stargazing, as we sat in a circle listening to a poem titled "She Let Go," that I felt it so strongly in my soul. The next day, I went to the same spot I had been sitting and built a cairn to symbolize the moment I let go. And as fate would have it, I felt the wind sweep across my face and a warmness in my soul. I knew it was my Brian telling me it was OK - I could let go, live my life and take care of myself.

For a long time, I felt helpless and paralyzed by my grief. Now I feel I have a new start on life. And like my roommate told me, we are blessed to have a chance to find love again and get the chance to possibly experience great loves in our lifetime again. Brian is special, and I know he will be a part of me always. The experience of grief and losing a man I thought I would spend my life with has changed me and made me the woman I am today. I love the woman I am. My heart radiates with love for all the women I met on this journey.