My First Encounter with Tragedy and Its Baggage

Four years ago I remember exactly where I was standing while I talked with a friend on the phone. She recognized I was repeating the same cycle of despair. She said I needed freedom. As soon as I agreed with her, I saw a picture in my mind’s eye of baggage all around me. This was the beginning of acknowledging and seeking to remove baggage in my life. 


Unbeknownst to me, the baggage came into my life when I was staring at my baby sister’s lifeless body. I felt what it was like to be alone for the first time in my life. 


When I was six years old my baby sister Erin was born. She cried a lot. My parents took her to doctor after doctor to find out what was wrong. Finally, it was discovered that she had a heart defect. She needed open-heart surgery. Going into surgery, my Dad wanted what was easiest on Erin. The doctor deterred my parents from the easiest surgery because she would eventually need another surgery. 


My sister died in surgery at the age of seven months. I remember her funeral. Her little lifeless body lying in a tiny casket.  I remember feeling alone.  I didn’t want Erin to be alone, so I gave her my favorite toy. A Monchhichi. It was a little black monkey with freckles and a banana. I wanted my sister with me, not in the ground. For the first time I had the concept of being alone and the fear of being alone.  I now had language for aloneness. Not only did I lose my sister but I also lost my mother as she struggled with the grief. 


Interestingly, all my life I didn’t think Erin’s death affected me because I was so young and I didn’t have a long relationship with her. However, that was the beginning of my journey carrying heart baggage. 


That was my first remembrance of excruciating pain and majestic loss. I didn’t grieve, nor process the pain, I ignored it.  The tool of denial became my way of dealing with the heartache of losing my sister and many other things in life. 


From that point on, I started stuffing my heart with baggage. I picked up the bags of pain, abandonment, fear of death, loss, and loneliness to name a few. 


The baggage was not only affecting me, it was bumping into my family and those around me.


Then I had that vision. It changed everything. It was time to deal with it. 


The Baggage Taker took me to the memory of my sister’s funeral. That’s where it started. He started showing me the baggage contents. There were false identities and lies that I believed about myself in that time of intense heartache. He showed me the effects of carrying around the baggage and how it lead me to disconnect and isolate myself from those I loved. He always gave me the opportunity to get rid of it...if I wanted. I had a choice. 


I plan to be vulnerable with my baggage in hopes that you encounter The Baggage Taker. I’ve found him to be gentle and willing to take those heart issues that have weighed me down. 


My hope is that you are able to give him the heartache, disappointments, and pain, so that you are able to walk in freedom. 


Has your heart become heavy or even waxed over with unresolved pain? Will you take the journey with me in acknowledging and removing baggage you were never meant to carry?