Michelle Sullivan | education advocate | Sheridan, WY
In July of 2002, while driving home on a lonely county road, a drunk driver turned left into my lane. My eighteen month-old son was in the back seat and I, eight months pregnant, was driving. They tell me the impact was 104 miles an hour and there were no skid marks.
Three years earlier, my husband and I left Washington, DC and I accepted a job that allowed us to move home to Wyoming. I was pregnant with our first child. We decided that life was too short to spend it in a way that did not provide a sense of place¬ to which we as Westerners were accustomed.
I was driven by a need to make a difference. I was also a mother caught up in the everydayness of baths, bedtimes, and the ensuing internal chatter about what’s for dinner and bowel movements. But even in Wyoming, there was little time to really be a parent amidst my various responsibilities at work and at home.
As has been the case throughout my life, I was lucky and blessed even amidst a major trauma. My son was only bruised and shaken. My beautiful daughter Maggie has just turned three and is thriving. I am alive and was able to carry our third child, Catherine to term.
After the accident, however, I did not acknowledge the extent of my injuries nor the palpable internal shift that had taken place within me. It took three more years, when to continue my job would have meant the loss of myself to others’ self-interests, to come to terms with who I was outside the realm of work.
To value oneself in a role that the world does not acknowledge is a formidable challenge and the exploration of what life is short really means has been a subtle and sometimes painful process.
I have begun to recognize that one can string together a life one public acknowledgement at a time. The world might define this life as successful while the living of it can remain meaningless. I am also discovering that the breath of a child as she dreams is exquisite, that laughter unlocks us, and that changing the world happens one very human relationship at a time.
Life is short. There is no promise of its length or conclusion. And our greatest contribution might very well be invisible to the world.