Life is full of choices. Each moment of our day we make a choice. Some are so natural and so automatic we don’t think of it. Other choices make our brains go into overdrive. I have learned that how we look at a scenario greatly affects the way we make our choice. It is like the saying, “Life isn’t about the cards we are dealt, it’s how we play the hand.”
Everyday I wake up I have the choice to let Mark’s death cripple me by dwelling on every detail, every moment, and a focusing on a future lost or I can move forward and take the future into my own hands. I choose to keep moving forward. It’s not just for the beautiful children I have, but it is also for me. Yes, I finally had to start looking at putting me first sometimes. If I laugh and smile, I show the kids through actions that there is still a life to live. I get the permanence of death and that no one can come back. I get that the future I thought once was, is no longer. It is a change. How I choose to make that change is up to me. I choose love and happiness.
Everyone grieves at their own rate and there is no right or wrong. I have had so much help and support around me that I think gave me a huge boost. Learning to live as a single mom and take every decision and everything needed to run our home and the lives of my three children into my own hands was daunting. I made a pact with myself to do one thing everyday to get all of our finances, paperwork, and life back together and in order. Each time I was able to check something off the list I felt a sense of accomplishment and a little stronger. That was a choice. The choice was to take matters into my own hands and get it done by navigating down an unknown path and finding good in each decision.
I have learned to find joy in the smallest moments in life: some solitude on the beach watching the sunset, singing and dancing in my living room to my favorite song, thinking about what life holds. The unknown can be scary but it can also be exciting. I choose to be open to whatever the universe and God has in store. I choose to keep an open mind and be open to all possibilities. I choose to let my heart beat again and feel love and laughter, yes, you really can feel laughter. I have also learned that’s it’s okay to be happy. That does not negate the life I once had, in fact it honors it. The woman I was is still there to some extent but the woman going into the future is someone I am proud to be. I have felt broken, labelled, and lost. I chose to wear those scars with pride and know there is greater strength than there ever was before. I have more of a sense now of who I am and what I want in life. I am no label, I am simply me.
A scar by definition is a mark remaining after injured tissue has healed; a mark left where something was previously attached; a mark resulting from damage or wear. No doubt when you lose someone you love so suddenly it leaves a scar. I can finally write this post because like the first part of the definition, it feels like my injured tissue is healing.
I remember the first day I got called to the emergency room because Mark was being wheeled into the cardiac cath lab where he ended up getting stents placed. I sat in the waiting room looking at two very lonely elevators thinking how different our life was about to become and yet not knowing how incredibly different life would be in just a week from that day. I remember the doctor telling me my husband had suffered a heart attack and there was damage done but he was able to get the stents in. Thank God!
One week. We barely had one week to get through the reality of what had happened before God had other plans. The days after Mark passed away I remember not wanting to go anywhere, eat anything, and feeling so numb to the world. I remember asking God why he didn’t take me instead and why he couldn’t just take me now because I couldn’t imagine my life without Mark. I would lay in bed and imagine what heaven was like and wish so very hard to be there with him. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t suicidal or anything, I just didn’t understand why.
The weeks and months ahead were full or emotional ups and downs and inside outs. What always pulled me out of the lowest of moments was knowing I have three beautiful children I needed to take care of and a life that wasn’t over. For some reason, I was still here. For some reason, my story wasn’t over. I always ask Mark for some sort of guidance and about a month ago I heard him.
He was always the type of person to encourage others and never let anything get the best of him. So it was no surprise when a voice told me, “Babe, it’s time to get moving! Life is being lived and you need to live it. I am always here but you need to pick up the pieces and build your life again, move forward.” Wow, so bossy! Exactly what I needed to hear though.
I knew at the start of the year that a new year is always filled with new beginnings and fresh starts. Was I ready? I thought so. Mark validated that I was. The scars created from the loss were deep and how was I supposed to move on feeling like I was damaged?
I realized life happens. We all come with scars of some sort. It’s finding people who can love and accept you not only for what is good but for the scars you carry and what they represent. So with a big breath, I get dressed everyday and face the world to live and love, scars and all.
Who would have ever compared themselves to a glowstick? I never thought of it until I saw the quote, “It’s okay to be a glowstick; sometimes we need to break before we shine.” A sentiment has never rang so true in my life. I sat in my room last night looking at the floor with so many thoughts racing through my head. So many questions about the future and so many whys left unanswered. Then I thought of the glowstick.
In the past few months I have been that glowstick. I’ve been broken in so many ways. Yet I also realized that for the first time since Mark passed, life is starting to move forward in so many positive ways. Ways I could’ve only imagined and ways that I never thought possible. It took me being broken to have the courage to go out in the world and just try. Then the quote by Mary Tyler Moore came up, “You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.” So true!
I think you find a bravery in yourself when you feel you have nothing to lose. When your spirit and heart are already broken, what else can break? That’s when you find the strength and bravery that’s been in you all along. The strength and bravery needed to finally shine. So I went and did what any former pageant girl would do and went straight to my closet and tried on my shiniest dresses. To my surprise, it fit! It was as if I put on the clothes of a super hero and I was able to look at myself in the mirror and say, “I got this!”
Life is uncertain and I have no clue where tomorrow leads. I do know that if I trust my heart and have the bravery to keep moving forward, it’ll soon be my time to shine. Am I a glowstick? Sure.
Every battle scar tells my story. Every story is a memory. Every memory shapes me. I am not who I was yesterday or who I’ll be tomorrow. I am a person who refuses to quit, who refuses to let words define who I am or what I’ll become. Who loves with the same tenacity and the same strength I give to every decision I make. Whose strength comes from the amazing and endless support that surrounds me. I go into the future uncertain of what will be, with a vulnerability that is suppressed by faith that happiness and success are within my reach. I go with the choice that today is what I choose to make it, so make it one of no regrets and one of happiness. Make it a day to truly live.
This Is Us, one of my favorite shows. Tonight’s episode made me love Mandy Moore’s character, Rebecca, even more. I looked at her and saw myself. For the first time I saw the strength everyone says I have on the television screen in front of me.
Every moment that played out on the screen brought me back to that fateful morning. The scenes replayed just as they were on screen but instead of being the cast of This Is Us, it was the real life people that were there that day. The difference this time, I didn’t end up in tears at the thoughts of that morning.
First. Time. Ever. No tears. Nope, I didn’t lose my ability to feel or become heartless. Instead, I found strength. A strength that has been getting me through the past few months. A strength that has allowed life to go on with little interruption for the kids, and for me. No, I haven’t lost my heart. My heart has finally started to beat again.
That day, that moment, doesn’t define me. It is a part of me and will always be. How could it not? It is a day that forever changed the lives of so many. How I chose to let it change me was up to me. I am not the same person I was before that morning. I chose that failure was not ever going to be an option. Time was needed to realize many things. Some may call it strength, I call it the choice to keep living.
There are many pivotal points in the journey to live again. The first night you sleep through the whole night. The first time you go out in public with friends. The first time you truly laugh. The first time you learn how to breathe again. I have now accomplished all of these.
I walked down the steps after an interview and could feel the weight of grief being slowly lifted off of my shoulders. My posture became taller. I smiled, like really smiled, and was happy. Not happy for just a moment, but happy for much of the day. I started to notice things beyond my snow globe. Each breath I took was easier.
In that moment the future seemed possible again. Will this feeling last? Who is to say? Knowing it was there meant that part of me isn’t dead. There is something that sparked a rebirth of positive energy making me ready for whatever the universe and God brings on. Being able to just breathe again though, that was a gift.
A hug is such a powerful thing. They beauty of hugs is that no words are said and yet the hug itself says so much. I loved watching “Mad About You” back in the day. The uncle on the show used always say, “Firm Embrace!” and proceed to give the biggest hugs ever! I always ended up yelling, “Firm Embrace!” and running up to Mark or the kids and wrap my arms around them so tight. They quickly learned to hug right back, or else. This is how much I love hugs!
An amazing friend of mine sent me the above picture with the phrase, “One day someone is going to HUG YOU so tight that all of your broken pieces will stick back together.” I looked at that and smiled and realized for the first time I actually smiled instead of cry at the thought of something so sentimental. A move forward.
That phrase showed the power of a hug. The power of feeling safe in someone’s arms. The power of being able to be put back together again. I guess I’m kind of like Humpty Dumpty. Yes, I fell off that dang wall but someday just maybe I’ll be put back together.