April 4, 2012 – the day I was officially notified of Dude’s death is also the day I hit rock bottom. Intuitively, I knew he was dead on April 3rd, but my fears weren’t confirmed until the next day. When I hit rock bottom, I hit it HARD. I felt like I had just been in ripped in two, like my heart looked like the Grand Canyon, and someone took what was left and was just simultaneously and repeatedly stabbing me with swords and punching me. My prayers alternated between “Please God. Just keep my heart beating” to “Forget it. I can’t live like this. I would rather be with him. I won’t take my own life, but heaven is where I want to be. Make it happen. ” My faith, my family and friends, and some grief counseling carried me, but I was in bad, bad shape. My world as I’d known it was blown wide open. Forever changed. I had to start all over.
Law school has always been in the back of my mind. My parents encouraged me to attend law school immediately after undergrad. I told them that I was not ready for that. It is a HUGE commitment and I feel you need a good reason to go to law school. At the time, “my parents think I’d be a good attorney” did not qualify as a good reason, so I said no, and ventured into the workforce. Dude and I discussed the possibility of my returning to school and a move to London seemed much more appealing. This relocation never (or hasn’t yet) happened. As I continue to advance in my career, law school kept popping up and seemed to make more and more sense. After Dude’s death, the grief counselors encouraged me to get a goal to push me forward into this “new life”. I told them I wanted to go to law school. Without missing a beat, they said, “go for it!” So I did.
I told my friends and family of my plan and got some crazy looks. Some questioned my ability to take on such a huge commitment of studying for the LSAT during a time of such deep grief. A few encouraged me to go find a husband and have some children instead. Some thought one masters was enough. Many didn’t say anything discouraging, but I think they were thinking this was a crisis move. I tossed around the idea with my bosses and other colleagues to ensure I wasn’t just overreacting to trauma. The response was overwhelmingly positive, so I continued.
And then I ran into speed bumps…but God being as awesome as He is, gave me a mentor. And not just any mentor, but one who is ridiculously respected in the legal community across the US. And then I applied to law school and had nothing but a pile of rejection letters. My mentor believed in me when no one else did and backed me 100% when I told her I was not giving up.
I sued LSAC (the testing board) for violating the American Disabilities Act. We settled three days before the October exam. I was sick at the time, but was not going to miss an opportunity that I’d worked so hard for, and I took the exam. My score was much improved, which meant I’d reapply.
I submitted my applications and said a prayer. Within 4 days, I received my first admission decision. It was an ACCEPTANCE to American University Washington College of Law. At first, I thought it was just a second email acknowledging they’d received my application. I was annoyed because they’d already notified me that they had my package and earlier that day declined to meet with me. I opened it up and the first word I see is “CONGRATULATIONS!!” Not used to seeing those words, I keep re-reading it. They just got my application on Monday and it was Friday. It had to be a joke. It had to be a mistake. But it wasn’t. I now have the paper letter and a magnet to prove it. It was God’s confirmation that despite all of the tragedy and trouble and crazy looks that have come my way over the last 1.5 -2 years, He has a plan for me. Dude has left, but I have work left to do on earth.
A firm believer in needing a reason to go to law school, I now have two interests – government procurement law and disability rights law. I feel strongly about doing disability rights law pro bono because I can’t bear to have others pay the amount I did to simply get the accommodations they need and are lawfully entitled to have. In addition to my new interests, I also gained the most amazing mentor who is overwhelmed with joy at the news of my acceptance. Best of all, this man,
the “Most Outstanding Student” of UR Law Class of 2007 watches over me.
It’s been a slow climb up from rock bottom. I am still working on it. Law school brings with it loads of work, but a hope for the future – a new life. I get sad that Dude is not physically here to be with me on this new adventure, but as two of his friends told me when I shared the news, “Mike knows. He is very proud and is smiling down on you” Yes, yes he is. And life is getting much better.
“If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.”
- Psalm 34:18, The Message
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you - plans to give you hope and a future" - Jeremiah 29:11