Originally published for personal blog on Apr 23, 2017.
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Once Upon a Time…
Girl meets boy in the Big City. Boy and Girl fall in love in a mad whirlwind. They marry with fanfare. They adopt three beautiful sons, each of whom has his own quirks and undeniable charm. They enjoy an imperfect marriage, but a happy one. Twelve years in, Boy is suddenly and quite dramatically diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. After a short, exhausting year of fighting for his life, Boy leaves this world far too soon. Before he goes, Boy teaches everyone around him to cherish each moment.
Girl is now a “widow.” Girl despises that label, and defies it with every ounce of her will. Girl falls apart. Girl is drowning grief. Her beautiful sons both keep her afloat and challenge her at every step. Girl is near the edge. Girl’s friends and family circle the wagons.
Girl makes an abrupt change and relocates to a city in which she doesn’t know a soul. Girl keeps anger and mourning at bay by busying herself with big projects and big dreams. Girl makes mistakes. A lot of mistakes. Girl is totally discombobulated. Girl lives with pain. She sometimes lashes out. She sometimes hurts people. She beats up herself daily. Girl is a basket case. Her sons are her motivation to get up in the morning. Otherwise, Girl would probably not get out of bed. Ever.
Then, slowly, Girl begins to regain her footing. She remembers she is strong. She breathes in the kindness of others. She recognizes joy in the eyes of her boys. She finds a few quiet moments and learns to listen to her inner voice. She sings a little more than she did before. She starts to find beauty in their collective ability to make it to the next day, and the next, and the next. Girl discovers genuine gratitude. She accepts, reluctantly, that she is a “widow,” but that she is far from alone. At about the age of 37 (better late than never), Girl finds that she is not a girl anymore. Girl is an empowered, creative – albeit a little nutty – determined Woman.
Woman meets Man. Man has a story too. Man has been through Hell. He has been to the dark valley, isolated, and been paralyzed by hopelessness. He has emerged wiser and with a profound appreciation for the light. He has found courage and character in his journey. Man is on solid ground now, connected to his community. He has been searching for a partner. He has boundless love and gifts of sunshine to share.
Woman and Man fall in love in a mad whirlwind. Man and the beautiful, quirky, charming sons also fall in love with one another. Against odds and logic, they become a family.
The Family is an amalgamation of stories. They have come together under unusual circumstances. Each member knows sorrow. Each member knows heartbreak. Each knows that any day can be the one that changes everything in an instant. They are a family that understands the bottom. They are a family that is rising together.
This Family knows gratitude. This family lives in hope. This Family, for all of its messiness, believes in love.
The above is only one of many versions of the story of my family. Over the years, I have written about our story in other forms, but the common denominators consistently have been gratitude, hope, and love.
My own practice of gratitude keeps me focused on growth and allows me the courage to believe in our ability to thrive. That is something that was hard won, and is easily lost if taken for granted. I don’t pretend to be a master, but I do know how it works for me.
My happy place is sitting in my comfy chair at my own little windowsill and looking out into the world through the lens of my experience: my “Widowsill” if you will. From here, I will be offering stories of my family, of challenges we face, of our high-octane moments of giggles and regrets, and anecdotes of how we manage to make our life together rich in ways none of us thought possible.
I will also share inspiration and wisdom from other sources that bring me peace, laughter, or a perspective that I hadn’t considered before in the spirit of entering into a thoughtful, respectful conversation with those of you who are so inclined to add your voice to it.
I am honored, and grateful, for you to join me.