There’s Always More

Nov 08, 2022

Each time I have asked a person to tell me their story of resiliency based on an event that I am aware of, I learn of a more complex person than I ever anticipated. It humbles me and reminds me to not cast assumptions.

Kassidi’s Story

A small town was recently struck by tragedy. A father, a mother and loved elementary school teacher, and their two sons were in their vehicle together the weekend before the fall semester began and were struck from behind by a cement truck. The father died on impact. The oldest child who would have been a second grader the next week later died from his injuries. After several days in the hospital, the mother and two-year-old were able to return to a much emptier home.

Some of us are struck by these tragedies more than others. Anyone with children the same age can immediately relate to the horror that the family is experiencing. Those of us who have been in vehicle accidents are brought back to our own memories of trauma. Kassidi was in a car accident several years ago. She also has two young boys. She was talking to her fiancé of just a few days when her accident happened. All he heard was the glass breaking, her screams, and silence. He arrived at the scene just seconds after the ambulance pulled away. Her vehicle rolled 10 times. The family of four’s vehicle rolled just once. Repeatedly she was drawn back to how she was she able to walk away with a few stitches and that family’s life was completely upturned forever.


I had asked if I could interview Kassidi about her experiences giving her child up for adoption after she had given birth at age 19 and then the baby’s tragic death just one month later.

What I learned was so much more.

Kassidi has had a lifetime of experiences, any one of which could crush a person. But, for now, I will focus on Kassidi’s baby. She had initially denied that she was pregnant. She was just barely out of high school after all. She was already on her own, and the baby’s father wanted nothing to do with Kassidi or the child. Kassidi had just started dating a new man and wasn’t quite sure how to tell him she was pregnant with another man’s baby. When she finally did tell him, his reaction was, “That’s it?! I thought you were dying!” He stuck with her throughout the pregnancy, was there the day the baby was born, and was there with her in the days that followed. At about the same time, that man had lost a very dear friend to leukemia and another one from a motorcycle accident. The two of them were grieving together.

Kassidi had given up her baby to a couple who were reportedly not able to have their own children. She gave birth to a very healthy 9-pound baby boy in a rural hospital that was undergoing renovation at the time. So, she was not in the normal maternity ward, but in a room next to the sick patients of the hospital. She was able to visit her baby and his new family regularly. All the while dealing with the normal postpartum changes but without the baby. As a young unmarried woman, she was not met with a lot of respect. The medical team didn’t even give her a choice in her postpartum care and told her she must keep her breast wrapped tightly so that her milk would stop producing. During the birth, the doctor was both not present for critical moments and very disrespectful when present. After her birth, he came into her room and ripped off the sheet that was covering her legs, and started his exam with nothing more than a mumble.


Those experiences alone could break a person.

Precisely one month and two days after the baby was born, Kassidi got a call at 6:30 am from her social worker who had helped with the adoption that her baby had died. She doesn’t remember much that happened after that. Later she learned that her social worker drove her to the hospital to see the baby. He had died of a blood disease that is transmitted from sick people to healthy people—she did not carry the disease nor did anyone in the baby’s new home. As you’ll recall, Kassidi gave birth not in a maternity ward, but in the general hospital with other patients in the rooms next to her all of whom were treated by the same staff.


That man she had just started dating was still there.

He was with her as she grieved yet again. Half a year later, he proposed to her, and she accepted. They were going to get married. Things were looking up until less than a week later she was in a vehicle accident and her fiancé heard the accident unfold without being there with his bride-to-be.

Again, he was by her side in the hospital and as she recovered in the days that followed. “How does such a good man exist?” she asked, “There must be something wrong, it is not possible for a human to be this kind.” He helped her family find her new puppy that was in the vehicle accident with her that miraculously survived and was wandering around the area in which they wrecked. He was with her when they found the necklace that she was wearing clasped around her neck of the baby’s imprint that was somehow hanging from the shattered windshield. He was with her when they went through the rest of the car wreckage and found her baby’s obituary still in the vehicle after rolling 10 times down the highway.

And who else to pull her out of the vehicle, but the wife of the man who had just given her a tattoo with her baby’s footprint. And where else would that woman have been going except to a meeting with the same social worker that Kassidi had become so close to. When Kassidi woke up in the hospital, she was surrounded by a tight-knit group of individuals coming from seemingly vastly different backgrounds that lived such intertwined lives.

Again, Kassidi brought up the story of how lucky she was to survive such a horrific experience and be surrounded by people who care so very deeply for her, and yet that family of four rolled just once and half of their family died.

Within the years’ time, Kassidi had become pregnant, met the love of her life, had a child, gave her baby to a new family, watched her baby die, and survived a vehicle accident that should have killed her. I asked her what makes her different; how can she be okay, when other people do not come out of such a dark place.

She said she wants to be the person who stops the cycle. She lives by positivity.

What I heard her say was she does not let trauma define her.

She said, if we don’t talk about our struggles, how will people know that we are struggling and how will people know that we need help? Trauma will shallow us unless it is released.

Kassidi is the change. She is open and accepting to everyone she encounters.


If you listen, there’s always more.

Now, let me tell you the rest of Kassidi’s story. Kassidi is a hairstylist. People tell her stories all day every day, she hears of her clients’ worries and all their wonderful triumphs. It is a career that allows her to help others. She listens, and they are able to get their story out in the air. She is the person who shares the positive take on shortcomings and struggles and allows the person in the chair to release their hurt. She allows that person to escape reality for a moment and just be. Perhaps the slogan should not be “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” but rather “what is said in the hairstylist’s chair, stays in the hairstylist’s chair.” She listens without judgment and likely has heard the same story from a different client and can provide hope.

The story could end here, and we could all agree that Kassidi is a very strong and resilient woman who is fulfilling her mission of helping others with their struggles. She married that man who stood by her side through dark days, and they have two very healthy and active boys.


But the story does not begin nor end here.

Kassidi’s parents divorced when she was in the third grade. She remembers a lot of yelling and abuse. She and her younger brother became very close. Children of divorced parents might relate to Kassidi in that the parents tend not to be around a lot as they grow up. Either they are working a lot to make ends meet or they re-enter the dating phase of their life. Both were true for Kassidi and her brother. So, they helped each other. Their mother remarried when she was in the seventh grade and gave birth to two more children within the next two years. The formation of a bigger family was good in that a new father figure was (and continues to be) around as a positive influence for both Kassidi and her brother. That said, Kassidi’s high school years were occupied with infants in the house, so she was able to run free.

In the moment, that sounds awesome for a high schooler. But this was the start of Kassidi seeking love and attention from young men and hiding her pain by cutting her inner thighs to escape reality. Since then, Kassidi has learned about other childhood events that she thought were mere nightmares, but are, in fact, horrific realities. She is learning to cope with abuse, abandonment, and pain.

Kassidi is not a victim. Kassidi is Kassidi.

She has chosen to get off the victim path and onto a new path in which she is in control. So far, she hasn’t found anything wrong with that amazing man who continues to stick by her side. In her darkest days, he instinctively takes over. He becomes the social engager, the dynamic parent, and the supportive husband.


The power of togetherness.

And from here we could assume the story has ended. Kassidi’s background informs how she was able to experience resiliency from the trauma of losing her baby. She has always had her brother to support and be supported by. And now she has her husband who unwaveringly stands by her side.


But we have yet to address Kassidi’s lowest point.

Her lowest point was not that long ago. On the roller coaster of life, she had experienced many lows and many highs. Her lowest point came during what seemed to be a relatively “normal” stage. She had been going to therapy and talking about her past trauma, her boys were healthy and happy, and her husband had a good job, and all was seemingly well.

But Kassidi was not well.

…She was driving down the road one day and decided she was done. Done with everything. She contemplated what it would be like not being here anymore.


This was the first point in our conversation where she started to tear up. Not from all the actual losses, but the potential for loss. The potential of the loss of her own life.

Somehow in that dark moment, Kassidi knew to call her brother. He saved her. He knew the pain she was feeling, and he was there for her. Like she has been there for him when they were young.


So again, I ask, what makes Kassidi different?

A year later from her darkest day, how is she seemingly okay and from the outside perspective seems like she is a very content and even bubbly hairstylist. She takes in other peoples’ struggles and spins it around to the point where people feel beautiful and happy when they leave her chair. How does she do it?

I’ll leave you to make some conclusions of your own.

What I learned is that Kassidi is Kassidi.

She is living her life the way that she wants to live her life.

She is not letting another person‘s expectations or perceptions rule her life.

She is choosing the path that is best for her.

She’s communicating her pain and her triumphs with two men she trusts and respects—her husband and her brother. They have proven time and time again that they are not going anywhere.

Kassidi has love in her life. She has two key relationships she can always rely upon.

She is teaching love and respect to her two young boys. She is teaching them to help others who appear to be struggling. She’s raising her boys to be the ones who will include the other children in play.

And she finds purpose in helping her clients find peace in their lives by letting them release their drama and trauma to her. Kassidi is full of unrelenting compassion, and she finds self-compassion in her own dark days.


Thank you, dear Kassidi, for sharing your story with me and others who need to hear your voice.

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