By Kate Atwood
My first memory of the phrase “pinch me please” is from the movie, Annie. There is a scene and a song in the beginning, where the little orphan is given a tour of her new home with Daddy Warbucks. In pure delight, Annie rings out, “could someone, pinch me please?” It is one of my favorite scenes, in one of my favorite childhood films.
The second memory I have of this phrase is not as joyous. It came in the days and weeks after my mother, Audrey, died when I was just twelve years old. It was that immediate time after such a devastating loss, where your world stops while everyone else’s keeps moving forward. “Could someone, pinch me please?!” I just wanted to be pinched, in hopes that the physical pain would trump the emotional pain, and the gears of normal life would kick back in as sharp as the pinch itself. But, that doesn’t happen.
Here’s the thing about grief: There is no way to accelerate that healing. No quick action to snap it out of your system, such as I desired with a pinch. There is no ointment to ease the pain, nor bandage to cover the wound. Grief is raw and exposed and it can’t be ignored or covered up.
I do believe though that there is healing in a process, a process that isn’t about covering the wound, but rather exposing it. This is what has worked for me and continues to work at the core of Kate’s Club. By exposing our unique wound it not only helps our own healing, but it also helps others around us trying to do the same.
If you know the story behind my inspiration to start Kate’s Club, you know that it was from this first act of exposing my wound at a camp in Virginia, over 15 years ago. It was at this camp that for the first time ,at the age of 20, I shared my grief story . It had been 8 years since I had the chance to talk about my mom and her death.. It was as if my heart, wounded and exposed, breathed for the first time since her passing.
This is what happens every time one of our kids shares at Kate’s Club. Their little hearts breathe. And like oxygen is good for healing physical wounds, a heart’s breath is critical in healing from an emotional wound.
That brings me to my most recent “pinch me” moment. One that, like Annie, brings me pure delight. It happens every year about this time: Camp Good Mourning. This year we will head out to Camp Twin Lakes for the eleventh time and bring with us 200 campers. (To put that in perspective – we took just eight kids our first year.) That’s a lot of hearts breathing and spirits healing, in the open southern summer air, and I can’t wait. Could someone, pinch me please!
(If you’d like to support our Camp Good Mourning, click here to donate)