Lessons of Loss, Lessons of Strength

*This post is four months old – just came across and published. Footnote will give updates.

My freshman year of high school a friend died suddenly. The guidance counselors gathered those who knew her into the cafeteria and we sat, numbly, trying to make sense of it. I remember watching people outside of the cafeteria walking, talking and joking. It felt like they were in an alternate universe. How could they be laughing when she was dead?

I couldn’t grasp it at the time. Looking back I realize that I’d learned my first lesson about loss: even when you are hurting the most, when you feel like you have a hole in your heart: life goes on. In my freshman year of high school, the world marched on, and soon enough, so did I.

2013 was a year of loss for my Daddy and our family. Grandpa, the stronger of his parents, got diagnosed with Leukemia and within two weeks passed away. Daddy cleaned out their two-story home and carefully went through 80 plus years worth of stuff, deciding which was important to hold on to and what needed to be given away. He and his sisters searched for a home for Grandma, who had been sick with cancer for 16 years.

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The Best Gifts


Think of your Grandma as you use it. You got your love of reading &

beautiful eyes from her.

Thank you, Grandma Bell. I couldn’t have asked for better gifts.


Beautifully said ..

May we all live brightly

love passionately and hold nothing back

And when the moment is over, when our work is done

May we step back

and let go

Calling BS.

I’d like to call Bullshit on myself. The last post I wrote was all airy fairy, and I talked about how I was ready to loosen my grip and move forward.

That’s nice and all, but what’s really happening is a tad bit different. Maaaybe more than a tad bit.

For the past few days, I’ve been getting hot and cold. I don’t have a fever, but it feels like I do. I’ve been welling up with tears over leaving the people I so dearly love and remenicsing on my growth during the past six years. I’ve felt a combination of excitement and anxiety that is hard to explain.

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I didn’t win the money but I did win the prize.

I want to thank you all for your support- your votes, your comments, and your love have amazed me. I didn’t end up winning the contest for Stratejoy.com, but I feel like I won in my own way. I say this for two reasons:

1. The essay I wrote was about the importance of a solid support system. The support that I got from friends, co-workers, and family, who passed the essay along to their friends, co-workers, and family, was truly touching. It proved to me that not only do I have that support system that I wrote about– I have a stronger support system then I even imagined. I can’t begin to express my gratitude for that.

You may not realize how many people you have in your corner, but in certain times- good or bad- you’ll see. If you did read my essay, I hope you took something from it. I hope you realized that you don’t have to wait for desperate times to appreciate those you love. Appreciate them now. I know it’s hard for me sometimes to believe that all of these people love and support me like they do, but I’ve seen it again and again, and it’s awesome. So thank you, because you are the reason that I am where I am in life, and you are the reason I feel like a winner.

2. I put myself out there. That was seriously scary. I’ve been nervous to write on my blog because, well, people will read about the real me. It’s not always good and it’s not always pretty. In fact, a lot of the times it’s not good and it’s not pretty. But I did it. I entered the contest, and I got selected as a finalist! What an incredible feeling.

Then I had to promote my essay if I had any shot at winning.

Hold up. You want me to share the dark secrets about my failed relationships and my faults and weaknesses? You want me to tell people what I put up with in that relationship just to be in a relationship?

You mean to tell me that I need to tell people that don’t know all of the details- which is just about everybody- that I’m not as strong as I’d like to come across? You mean my co-workers will know the shit I put up with in my last relationship? You mean people will get a glimpse into my extremely imperfect past? That was heavy.

I was scared to death. Slowly, I started telling people. I went from being nervous to reveal myself to basking in the glow of people telling me they were inspired by how brave I was. It was a liberating experience.

I’ve always known that I’m flawed, but to know that other people feel the same way, in one capacity or another? To know that putting my story out there might help someone else? This is what this was about.

So, I didn’t win the contest. But I won much more. I thank you all and I appreciate every single one of you and the impact you have on my life. The realization that I have you, no matter what I write or say or do… that is my prize.