One night in 2007, I had a vivid dream. I was the front passenger in a car and my teen daughter Aly was sitting behind the driver. Suddenly, the car missed a curve in the road and sailed into a lake. The driver and I escaped the sinking car, but Aly did not. As I bobbed to the surface, I dove again and again in the murky water desperately searching for my daughter. But I failed to find her. She was gone. My beloved daughter was gone, leaving nothing but an open book floating on the water where she disappeared.
Two years later, on August 5, 2009, that horrible nightmare became reality when Aly died as a backseat passenger in a car accident. Returning home from a swim meet, the car carrying Aly and two of her teammates was T-boned by a father coming home from work. My beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter took the brunt of the impact, and died instantly. She was the only fatality.
Against the odds, I came upon the scene of the accident. The high-speed impact sent both vehicles flying into a farm field. I made my way through the tall grass toward the twisted wreckage like a wild animal searching for her young. I found her on the ground next to the rear passenger door. My precious baby girl with the smooth tanned skin and long blonde hair, the strong broad swim shoulders and tiny waist, my stellar student with fierce determination and dedication to reach the Olympics, was strapped to a backboard and draped by a stark white sheet. I knelt down and searched for her hand under the sheet’s edge. Finding it, I sat in the grass next to her warm body and held her hand in mine, too shocked to cry.
Behind me stood a large group of emergency responders and law enforcement officers, hushed respectfully as they took in the scene. I could feel the collection of raw, powerful compassion. And then for no particular reason, I looked up into the dark field that stretched before us and in that moment I saw my beloved grandmother who died thirteen years prior. She had an arm around Aly and was gently leading her away. Aly was looking over her shoulder at me as she walked beside the great-grandmother she never knew. Walking away from me, forever.
Seeing the world through a filter of sorrow, I found comfort by helping others who were struggling and this fueled my passion to create a legacy of help, healing and hope. I founded AlyBlue Media in 2013 and launched Grief Diaries Radio in February 2014. I soon added film, webinars, and books to my repertoire as well as national events including the National Grief & Hope Convention featuring Martin Luther King's daughter, Dr. Bernice King. I was so moved by all the stories that were swapped at the convention that weekend that I decided to invite grievers to share them in a book series called Grief Diaries. Over a hundred people in six countries registered and the first eight books were published in December 2015. Now home to more than 600 writers spanning the globe, Grief Diaries has 23 titles in print with more on the way.
Because of that floating book my daughter left behind, I now understand that the dream I had in 2007 was actually a glimpse into a divine plan destined to bring comfort, healing and hope to people around the world through sharing stories. Not only does it help both reader and writer, but the written words become a portable support group for those who share the same path. It’s comforting to know someone else understands the shoes we walk in, and the challenges we face along the way. Although no two journeys are identical, Grief Diaries is proof that none of us are truly alone. For we walk ahead, behind, and right beside you.
Lynda Cheldelin Fell
LYNDA CHELDELIN FELL
How Grief Diaries began . . .
Lynda Cheldelin Fell's remarkable story behind Grief Diaries