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Through the Broken Glass

Written by Ayomide Ojebuoboh

I was already in a bad mood, lying on my apartment room floor, wrestling with thoughts of disappointment, frustration and insecurity. Then, I heard my suitemate yell through my thin apartment walls, “You know Kobe Bryant? Kobe Bryant is dead.” What? I was confused, so I stood up, immediately went to my suitemate’s room and listened as she told me what happened. A few seconds later, my second suitemate came inside, we huddled in the tiny room as we stood in silence and disbelief.

Kobe’s death jolted me awake from my pity party, and the cliché “life is short” rushed through my head. I returned to my room in shock. Moments later, I found out that Gigi, his daughter, was in the helicopter, too.

Then my heart sank.

For a few days, I was numb. I didn’t want to feel too much. I didn’t want to feel too hard. Until, I spoke with someone about a completely unrelated topic—my acne. Then, the tears fell and the overwhelming, painful emotions consumed my body. When I returned to my room, I cried…for seconds, turned hours then days.

Until I decided it was no longer time to numb the pain—it was time to embrace not only Kobe Bryant’s death, but hope. It was time to embrace hope and purpose again. I was ready to confront the reality that life is short. I had to decide what I was going to do about it, and how could I continue living in hope and purpose at the same time.

Finding hope and purpose through grief is like observing light shine through a broken glass cup. It wasn’t just Kobe Bryant’s death that pierced my heart. I had just finished (or at least I thought I finished) processing the death of Corinn Linkowski, Jarrid Wilson, 2-year-old baby girl, Olive Heiligenthal, and Erin Edwards. At this point, my heart resembled a broken glass that had not just been broken once, but multiple times.

The beautiful thing about broken glass, is that despite the cracks, if you put a light behind it, through the shatter and the crooked imperfection, the light still passes through. Although grief had shattered me inside and left me broken and in immense pain, it instilled a new sense of purpose and hope again. Emotional pain from losing someone caused me to pause and think of questions that suddenly resurfaced from my high school years:

What is my purpose on earth?

If life is too short, what will I do with mine?

How can my faith propel hope and purpose in my life?

Purpose and hope go hand-in-hand. The definition of hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen,” so in order for me to live on purpose, I have to hope that I can actually complete my purpose. We can either allow grief to blur our vision of hope and purpose or allow it to propel us into it.

Although I have not fully figured out my purpose, walking through grief has caused me to look at the lives of those who have passed away and continue their legacy or pick up old skills that I had pushed away. Just because someone had passed away didn’t mean that I couldn’t continue their legacy.

Corinn Linkowski, an 18-year-old girl who passed away in a tragic car accident, inspired me to not give up on singing because her low vocal range reminded me of mine. Jarrid Wilson, a pastor who spoke boldly about mental health and committed suicide last fall, has made me even more tenderhearted towards those who are wrestling with mental health. Olive Heiligenthal, the 2-year-old daughter of a worship leader, led me to question, yet simultaneously, trust more in the goodness of God.

And Erin Edwards: she may not know this, but she helped me write again. She helped me find out about Charcoal. For so long I put writing on the back-burner, and although I could never write like her, I desire to continue her legacy as a storyteller who speaks up for marginalized communities.

Through the pain of their deaths, I finally see hope. I see purpose again. For me, my faith and hope in God have been the biggest factors that have helped me to see light shine through the broken glass. I have found purpose in loving God, loving people well and walking in my talents again.

I now have the images of those four people on my phone screen with the verse “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the lord”. This screen reminds me: I will continue to sing, write, and most importantly, hope. I will continue to hope.

I will not live the rest of my life blocking the light from shining through my broken heart. |