A Happy and Thankful Life

Sights and sounds

I worked off-site today and saw some things that normally aren’t seen during the course of a work day. I saw Abraham Lincoln, a Civil War soldier, a polar bear (mascot), a T-Rex (mascot), KISS, Barney Fife, a living statue, Diego (mascot), a baby ring-tailed lemur, assorted other exotic animals,  dancing robots, a panda (mascot), a Beatle (band member – not insect) and had front row seats for a band performing in front of our table.

Today I’m thankful for the interesting things I do and see thanks to my job. And that I get to see more tomorrow!


Welcome 2013

I had a quiet, reflectful, and productive 1st. I rearranged two rooms in my apartment and as I did so I realized that I was making this apartment mine. It’s not “our” apartment anymore but “mine”.  I know that for some, after their spouse died, they had to leave their home for a variety of reasons. I came close to that myself. But I was and still am thankful that the circumstances changed and there was one less thing for me to worry about.

I feel like I’m slowly getting to a point that I can make changes and be okay with it. I’m in control of these changes and the pacing. The changes have less control over me. I’m grateful for that.

That was yesterday. Today, I’m struggling with what to be thankful for as I discovered that during the last two days, someone drove their car into my parked car. They didn’t leave a note or call the apartment office. There is enough damage to my just under 3-year-old car that it has to be fixed which means that I get to pay my deductible and deal with my insurance company. I will never understand why some people can’t own up to their mistakes. In the scheme of things, there are worse scenarios than what I’m dealing with. I’m thankful that I wasn’t in the car when it was hit, that it is still driveable, and that I still have full coverage on my car.

Late night

It is almost 4:30 in the morning. I worked a 6.5 hour day, headed home to pack and then hit the road for my almost 8 hour drive to my best friend’s house.

Tonight/this morning, I’m thankful for a great 3 hour talk. For the ability to visit her and her family for a long weekend. For a safe drive during weird traffic and weather patterns. And most of all, I’m blessed to have such an amazing person in my life.

A choice

We have a choice. We can choose to live our lives filled with joy or with hate. To find happiness in what is good in the world or to find anger in what is wrong in the world.  To be inspired or to be in a rut. To make changes to help find our happiness or to do nothing. To take responsibility for our own happiness or to blame others for our unhappiness. We can take each day as a gift or as an entitlement. We make these choices every day.

I choose joy and hope. There are days that it isn’t easy. But it takes work. And it is worth it. It means a calmer and more peaceful me. It it is who I am inside and underneath the pain and grief. It means that I’m slowly making my way to the new old me.

What do you choose?

One step closer

I’m thankful for those moments, however small, that show me that I’m a step closer to where I need to be. I’ve realized that I’ll never be the same person I was before. I’ve been through too much to return to who that girl used to be. Experiencing death and grief, and how people choose to treat each at such a difficult time, changes you. It changed me. It hurts to know that. But I have to remind myself that I can still be the best new me possible. I’m getting there, small step by small step. And I’m also thankful that I’m able, at last, to see that.

Good works

In what seems like a world away, I used to be a positive person. I used to focus on the good and what is right with the world. I now find it hard to see that girl through the grief and chaos that has been my world in the last few years.

But here is the catch…I wouldn’t trade any of that pain, grief and chaos for a life that didn’t include John. He brought a special kind of joy and love into my life. And I can’t fathom trading that joy, however brief, for something else. That is the rub. I would love to return to a world that doesn’t include grief and pain and includes John. But wishes and wants don’t change reality.

Instead, for the moment,  I’m forcing myself to focus on the positive.  I try to support organizations that have become very close to my heart: the cancer hospital where John was treated and had his transplant, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Be the Match and Red Cross. I’ve slacked a bit in the last year but I’m forcing myself to get back into lending my support. As such, I officially picked my volunteer slots for a weekend long fundraiser. I volunteered the first two years of this event but couldn’t get myself together to volunteer last year. I’m signing up for the Be the One Run tomorrow – I’m walking…let’s be realistic here! Tomorrow I will also officially sign up for the Light the Night Walk.

I have written this before, but John wanted me to continue to support these organizations, regardless of what happened to him. I believe that he asked me to do this for two reasons – to provide others hope but also because he knew that it would be best for me – that the girl he fell in love with would need to do it to get back to who she once was. To make sense out of the bad, I must believe in the good. I wear a necklace that says “Hope” – I need to try to live it. There must be hope. I must believe that. Right?

End of vacation

I’ve been on vacation for the last week and a half. I return tomorrow. Yes, July 4th. But, I have a few things to work on and a quiet office will allow me to work on the reports and clear my email.

This vacation has been interesting as I wasn’t sure how I would be during the anniversary of the days that were some of the hardest last year. I’m still not ready to talk about last year or this year’s emotions too much right now. I’ll get to that at some point. Just not tonight.

Tomorrow I’m returning to work sunburned, covered in mosquitoes bites, and with a broken windshield and dents all over my car. But I’m also blessed to have a peaceful week and a half to remember, and spend quality time with one of best friends, my MIL and my family. There were 2 trips to amusement parks, 1 niece’s birthday, 2 cakes made, 1 tearful visit to Kobacker House, 1 statehouse tour, 4 nights camping, 1st trip to Put-in-Bay, 1 near encounter with a tornado, 1 cat happy to see me, and lots of laughter and a side of tears.

Didn’t realize at the time but it was exactly what I needed. I’m thankful for that. And I’m thankful for realizing that.

A year and a day later

Yesterday was the year anniversary of John’s death. Here are my thoughts…

I’m thankful for the kind words that have been sent my way, for a friend that spent the day with me being very far from where I was last year, for having just enough something to get through the past year and few months. I’ve been told the future isn’t easier, just different. This is not a “new normal” that I asked for. This is what I was given. I’ve been shoved into a club that I never wanted to join.

But in this “new normal”, I have seen the best from people, and sadly, the worst in a very small number of people. I have met people that have been where I’ve been and understand. I haven’t been at my best this year. I’ve been far from it. I’ve lost who I am and I’m trying to get back to her. I may feel broken and not strong but I’ve been blessed to have the support and love from the people that matter the most to me. I may not say it enough, but I am thankful.


Sidenote : Don’t place your judgements or “what I would do” expectations on someone else; you don’t know how you will handle such a situation until you are in it. And even then you can’t judge. Every situation is different and as long they aren’t hurting themselves or others, how someone decides to grieve is okay. Grief will also manifest itself in a very strange ways. It is a very personal and individual journey.  

A year – letter to John

Last June 24th was a Friday. I was terrified that you would be alone and hated leaving you. I was encouraged to tell you my wishes….that you wouldn’t try to spare me or protect me by passing while we were away. We had been through so much together, as a team, that I didn’t want you to be alone. I wanted you to be in a loving and calm place – to be surrounded by people that loved you. Thank you for honoring my wishes. I hope I was able to honor your life and spirit in a way that you would approve.
Learning to live without you has been hard. Harder than there are words for. We have great friends and family that have been so supportive and have carried me through the hardest times. But they aren’t you. There is this massive John sized space in my heart and life that can’t be filled. I’m not sure why I post to your page…but I have these words that I need to share and I hope you know how much you are missed and loved. I would love to hear you yelling over PS3 at Larry one more time. To hear you debating some political or military subject with your dad. To see the love you had for your beautiful nieces and my silly nephews and niece. To hear your calming words and voice of reason when I am stressed. To watch another Yankees game with you. To see you play with the kitten you waited so long to get. To have one more hug and kiss and hear “to infinity and beyond plus one.”
I know I’m not the only thinking that it wasn’t supposed to be like this. You were going to be one of the 40%. My only hope is that what the hospital learned during your treatment, and afterwards,  has the potential to help future AML patients. Something good has to come from all this pain. You are missed. You are loved.

7 years

‎7 years ago today, it was a Wednesday and Titanic was at COSI. I was wearing a period dress and a hat that didn’t fit through doorways. You were wearing a security uniform. I didn’t realize that the new guy I passed while entering the Grand Staircase room would change my life. I don’t think you realized it when you almost walked into the wall. It’s a bittersweet day but I’m trying to remember all the laughter and joy you brought me, and our friends and family. We planned our future together for so much more than what we had time for. I’m so very thankful for the time we had but hate that we were robbed of our future because of leukemia. I miss you and love you.