I stood in awe as I watched Emily tighten, snap and secure the straps on her backpack at the United counter. There was little worry this time as in the twenty years since her feet hit the planet she has experienced many adventures..all over the world. By her command of this pack I knew that the time had come… to open my hands…cover her with blessings...and let her fly. She was headed to Europe this time…meeting friends she had met during her gap year in Asia. It was a much needed trip after being held captive in University for a year.
Emmy enjoyed her first year at Temple University but the endless cement and winter months left her longing for home…or a little South of home. She would set her Sophmore year sites on school in Santa Barbara where there is ample sun and close proximity to water and mountains. There would be no dorm this time as she and her friends found a cute little house they could call their own. We know the drill right? She will take part of her bedroom…and build her own nest….and although she will still come home on breaks…it won’t ever be the same. A rite of passage…bittersweet…but as I watched her throw her backpack onto the United scale I couldn’t help but feel the sweet.
Once checked in, we began our familiar trek to SFO security so caught up in conversation that we didn’t realize we went to the wrong gates. A ten minute delay to walk to the other side of the terminal. Inconsequential..or so I thought. It’s my tradition to stay and watch the girls fade into security. Although they tease me, they always shoot me a smile and wave as they meander through the lines. Today as Emmy walked into the detector I stared a little longer…surrounded her with white lights…and went on my way.
Driving home I was reminiscing about the journey the three of us had taken…and how grateful I was to have shared the last 23 years with my girls. Although things would change for us, I was excited to venture into this next phase…with them…and with myself. I was in the final negotiations with an investor who shared my passion and wanted to support my vision for St. Helena Olive Oil Co. After 6 months of intense negotiations, a letter of intent was signed, documents were being drawn, and funding was anticipated within 30 days. New beginnings were in store for all three OKelly girls.
The drive home was a breeze until I was reminded it was June 1st…. the first day of the dreaded St. Helena Construction project. As I stopped in a long line of cars I could hear the concierges of the Valley telling their guests, “ Don’t go to St. Helena…it’s a mess”. I glanced in my rear view mirror to ensure the following car knew to stop but it was plenty far behind.
My next memory was of a loud sound in the distance and a confused notion that someone had hit me...then awakening to the shattering glass of the car in front of me as I watched my front end smash the back of it as if it was an aluminum can. Silence. Sirens. Confusion. Fear. Shock.
Diagnosis: Whiplash/Concussion. Cognitive abilities – shot. Little ability to focus and concentrate. Sensitivity to sound and light. Difficulty finding words…completing thoughts…slowed speech. Intolerance to stress. Exhausted. Weepy. In seconds I became a stranger to myself.
Recovery period – 3 months to one year..or maybe longer.
Conclusion: New beginning.
Before you feel bad for me I want to let you know that I’m okay. I’ve had to make some very challenging business decisions but I stay focused on gratitude...it could have been much worse...I get to heal. I closed the store on July 31..I can open another one when it is time. I tabled the deal. Production/Shipping/Admin are all within walking distance of my home so I can manage with ease. I have no idea how things will roll from here...but do we really ever?
I will share my story as I have done with all of my adventures. This time I travel alone…and the lessons are deep. I am going to temporarily refine my product line. I’m going to focus on what we do best…our oils and vinegar…salts, rubs and seasoning...and slowly rebuild...as my mind does the same.
Sometimes the only choice we have in life is how we see it....and I see this as an opportunity…to dig deeper...trust more...and be grateful for the simple things. This brain may appear to be down…but it is simply recalibrating…and moving me in the direction I am suppose to go. I know deep in my heart…..this was no accident.