Life is a series of beginnings, middles, ends and experiences.

I was sitting in a quiet house, two boys napping.  I was sewing a new fleece hat for my sister-in-law.  When you make things for people you get to infuse them with love.  I know it sounds a little “kooky“, but it’s true.  At that moment I was also waiting for my brother to bring her home.  I kept thinking they were there because a neighbor tied a balloons and a welcome home sign on the front porch.  It was a time in life where I had a moment to be pondering the greater scheme of things.  This coming home was a beginning of her being home.  She left her home ill just 4 weeks ago, not knowing that she would end up with a seriouse disease and spend a month in the hospital.  She left her home so differently than how she would be returning today.  I am proud to be her sister-in-law and regretful that we have to deal with leukemia.  We are nearing some middle time with the disease and coming home was the beginning of the middle.

My time had a beginning, where I was stressed out, trying to do my best.  The middle where I had the routine down and now the end.  In my end phase I am trying to figure out how to not miss my niece & nephews so much.  I am trying to figure out how to get back to my life and keep bonds here for this family.  I wanted to leave a random food in the fridge to be remembered.  I am leaving my niece a favorite t-shirt for pj’s.  I am doing all I can to finish up strong, and leave everyone including myself a better person because of this visit.  When more time passes all of us will have the experience of this time.

When I work with trauma survivors (be it a victim or offender) and we are talking about the aspect of volunteering or storytelling I explain how our brains slow down and take in the moments the incident starts.  For some people it is the call from the hospital, for others waking up in the hospital.  People know the events and moments that surround our beginnings that change our life.

Where were you when 911 happened.  That was a beginning.  Our brains equip us with bookmarking, a survival instinct to note what we should avoid in the future.  Restorative Justice questions help us with beginnings, by asking “what did you think when you realized what happened”.

After we get our wits back, we are in the middle.  We cope and we deal with what happened.  Depending on where a situation is in the criminal justice process, or if there was even a formal response to the crime, people start to find the middle and then decide what they need for their own end.

Restorative Justice helps people tie up the end before they move to the final part which is an experience.  I am reminded of Kubler-Ross and stages of grief.

I like using the milestone question in Circle, at the building relationships stage.  I ask for people to share something that is coming up for them, or something that they have just gone through.  Everything happens in cycles.  I appreciate that when someone shares a sobriety date, or a birthday we can all easily relate to the anticipation of a birthday or the celebration of sticking with something for a certain amount of time.

I think we could help ourselves, restorative justice involved or not, by remembering to just be in our experience.  Deal with the beginning, the middle and the end, by doing the best in our relationships, we can all have one life experience after another that leaves us more complete and more human.