One day, not long after we accepted the settlement, Sandra said something to me that transformed the way that I grieved for Josie.
"This energy from your grief and anger is very powerful. It's time for you to make a decision," she told me. "You can let the grief and anger continue to destroy you. You can sit in your house all day, cry, and be angry at Hopkins and the world. You can give up. Or you can take that energy and use it to propel yourself forward." She took a sip of her tea and looked at me. "Get out there and do something with your anger. Do something with your pain."
I thought back to my childhood, to happier times and summers at Bruce Farm in Virginia, when my mother—wearing blue jeans, a bathing suit top, and holding a riding crop—would stand in the middle of the lawn and give us riding lessons. "Heads up and heels down," she'd command as we jumped over cross rails, galloped through fields, and sailed over stone walls. When one of us got bucked off she'd pick us up, wipe our tears away, check our bodies for broken bones, and then make us get back in the saddle. "If you fall off a horse, you get right back on," she'd say as we pleaded to quit.
I came home that day thinking about what Sandra had said. I thought back to when the neurologists told me Josie was going to die: how I realized at that moment, in a flash, that something tremendous was happening. I knew from the very beginning that there had to be a reason that Josie was taken from me now. And now I knew that reason was not for me to sit in my house all day and feel sorry for myself.
Sandra was right. I had to make a choice. Maybe the pain and sadness could be made into a form other than tears, a form much more powerful and productive. It was time to stop looking for God and religion to rescue me. It was time to put away the paints and the guitar, hoping for the pain to go away. It was time to do something else, something for Josie. Maybe, like Jack wanted, I should stop crying and maybe, like Gloria had said, it was time to leave Josie's room and get out of the house.