The first time I met Mitch Carmody was at a MEET AND GREET for those who had all “Friended” The Compassionate Friends / USA on Facebook. We were all attending the annual National Conference in Arlington, 2010. It was my first time at a TCF Conference…and my very first bereavement event at a National level. I was a bit unnerved in this room filled with about 60 people with whom I shared the distinction of paying the highest dues ever to become part of an organization: The Death Of Our Child.
I remember, very well, seeing this “hippie appearing guy”, colorful bandana wrapped around his head, psychedelic sneakers, all bright colors and vibrancy, in stark comparison to my very somber and dull “just a year past my daughter’s death” demeanor and matching attire. He smiled a lot, but was genuine. There was no masking behind his eyes. I was intrigued.
As we did the “go around”, introducing ourselves and our children who no one could see, but who never leave us, I didn’t hear his name. I was still very foggy, groggy, pretty newly bereaved. I couldn’t say, then, that I was “glad to be at the conference”, because the word “GLAD”, among so many others, had died from my vocabulary, the same night that my daughter took her final earth breath….Being THERE was GOOD FOR ME; even necessary, as it turned out, to Begin my Survival, but experiencing “happy” emotion was, still, beyond my reach.
What I do remember about this “hippie-like guy” was him saying that it was Wonderful (how could a bereaved parent experience, “Wonderful”? I remember thinking) that we all had Facebook to find each other, to communicate with each other, to support each other, without ever having to leave home. When his son had died, some twenty-two years before, there was an aloneness, a separateness, a struggle within the pain, without the instant support and caring of others who understood. He spoke of how blessed we were to have THIS; to have each other. He exuded warmth and sincerity. And even though I knew from my own mom’s experience of continuing to live 64 years after the death of her first born, that we DO GO ON, I was amazed that here was this man; this FATHER, attending a TCF Conference, walking, talking, and even smiling and laughing, two decades after burying his only son.
I liked this guy, immediately.
But then, I have always been a sucker for facial hair and a person who isn’t afraid to stand out from the crowd. Shades of him reminded me of The-Me-I-Used-To-Be ~ Alive, Colorful, Vibrant.
I was surprised the next day when I walked into a workshop
To find this bereaved dad, whose name was listed in the program as Mitch Carmody, Kelly’s Dad, as The Presenter. The workshop was held in the largest auditorium space and was overflowing.
I felt the connection between us grew, as I listened to him speak about SPIRIT SIGNS, something that I not only deeply believed in, but had experienced, greatly, first hand. At the end of the workshop, Mitch was surrounded by dozens of people wishing to meet him, talk to him, share their experiences, and I was no exception. He patiently made time for everyone. He seemed not only intrigued by a couple of the stories that I shared, but exhilarated by hearing them…..
my personal relationship with Mitch Carmody had begun!
There are some people in life whom I feel we are destined to meet; who maybe on some little understood spiritual level, have been placed in our path at exactly the right and needed time. Mitch is one of those individuals for me. Knowing him, being with him, is like a loving embrace for the soul. At that first conference for me, Mitch was present when I received an touching spirit sign from Robyn. I know that every time he sees a robin, now, he is connected to me and to My Girl.
It was BECAUSE of Mitch, through Mitch, that I met his “Bother From Another Mother”, Alan Pedersen…and while that is ANOTHER story, it is a Connected Story. Had I not “accidentally and coincidentally” walked into a workshop where Mitch was doing interpretive sign to music in a SONGS OF SORROW workshop, my life could very easily be in a much darker place now. Alan and Mitch, together, opened a lighter window in my heart that had darkened.
I can pinpoint about 5 people, other than my unbelievable rock of a husband, and my son, who not only helped me to keep walking, talking and taking Baby Steps at the beginning of My Grief over Robyn, but who influenced me in depths of Intentional Survival-ship that I did not even understand at the time. Mtch is at the top of that list.♥