It would be easier

Here we are again, camping at our annual trip. I am laying alone tonight because Brad had to return to work and Amelia, as per usual, wanted a sleepover with Nana. Up until tonight, it has been pretty good. We continue the shenanigans and even had a bacon cook off this year since we now have two men in the meat business.

Despite all the fun we are having, tonight, I am struggling. We have had conversations, your mom, sister, and I , reminiscing about all we went through, things we were told about your health and life expectancy etc. It is so hard. I can’t remember everything and sometimes, although I am hearing things for the second or third time, I have forgotten and it seems like new information all over again…my heart breaks all over again.

I am laying here in this bed thinking about how much easier life would be if only you were here….

It would be easier to stay home to avoid the crowds, easier to avoid crowds so I don’t have to answer for the tears

It would be easier to hide my tears if my heart wasn’t so hurt, easier to hide the hurt so no one knows I’m not okay.

It would be easier to smile If I wasn’t so broken, easier to have fun if my broken could be fixed.

Everyday it seems there’s something “easier” than the last , but your last day was the hardest of my life.

I replay that day like a scratched dvd except it’s my broken heart that just can’t seem to heal.

I still find I’m angry, still find that I’m blue, loving you was easy but letting go I just can’t do.

It would be easier if you were here, easier if you were near, Easier if I had your kiss, easier if I wasn’t writing this.

I wish I wouldn’t beat myself up over the prayers that I sent, “Dear God take his pain away” just the pain and not you is really what I meant.

I know that He has healed you and heaven must make it easier to see, all the things I am grateful for that you have given me.

It would be easier to run and hide, easier to forget the pain inside, but, I speak your name and share my pain to make it easier to understand.

I’ll never know why and forever shake my fists, but I’ll forever move forward if it’s the last thing on my list.

It would be easier to quit school if I didn’t know you were watching and easier to not give a damn if I wasn’t trying to be perfect.

It would be easier to be perfect if I wasn’t so far from, Easier to be mediocre and know that I am loved.

It would be easier to love again if what we had wasn’t so real, easier to open my heart if happiness I allowed myself to feel.

All of these thoughts come and go and each day I give my best, to make each new day a bit easier than all of the rest.

It’s a learning process this grieving and learning to live life without you, each day is a struggle but every tomorrow is new.

It would all be easier if grief wasn’t so damn hard.

Sprinkled in between and all around

Again we are in dismay as 2 years have passed. We released balloons at your grave, went to church, and shared a dinner.

It was nothing spectacular as this year seemed harder than the first and we were all emotionally exhausted. It’s exhausting missing you everyday.

This year I wished I could have had time alone with alcohol and a punching bag because my anger over losing you was at the forefront. Instead, I continued with the usual order of remembrance for the kids and your family.

It’s really hard to put into words just how hard it is living everyday missing you.

We have ups and we have downs and somewhere sprinkled in between and all around is the missing you.

We all do our own small things to remember you and we all talk about you regularly.

It still hurts when Amelia asks, “Why did God take my Daddy?” and it always will. Kids look to their parents for answers and I will never be able to answer this. I won’t even be able to fake my way through an answer. It hurts. I think about all of the things she will miss out on with her daddy. Donuts with dads, Daddy-Daughter dances, piggy back rides, hunting, fishing and baking pumpkin pies. She loves to bake and she makes the perfect little helper although when M&Ms are involved you’ll find some making their way out of the bowl 😉

It also hurts when she tells Gabriel, “Daddy died before you were born but he still loves you”. At least she isn’t wrong. Josh does love him and we all believe Josh met Gabriel before we did. How else could I have been given such an incredible little boy?

The kids are growing like weeds. Life keeps me on my toes. Amelia enjoys gymnastics, Gabriel is finding his voice. I am still trying to figure out who I am without you and sprinkled everywhere and all around is us missing you.

The week before your angelversary, I volunteered at a golf tournament for a local Fraternal Order of Police just like I did the year before. This year was different though as they incorporated local fallen Law Enforcement from years past. It was so great to see your face, speak your name , and be surrounded by others who will also, never forget you.

I continue to volunteer and sponsor a day of programming on our local christian station in your honor. We miss you so much.

Your angelversary comes just before your annual family camping trip to Itasca and so I continue to gear up for that too. I am sure it will be filled with shenanigans and fun but boy is it tough getting ready for. Not just the physical labor of getting the camper packed but the emotional preparation of attending your favorite time of year without you. I am sure tequila shots will be had, many will over eat, the bat will makes it’s way around and sprinkled in between and all around, will be us missing you.

Onions

“No. Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers.”- Shrek

This quote made me laugh as I was crying on my way home from my friends grave on 4th of July. I was crying because of pain and thinking “who’s cutting onions” the phrase people typically say when they begin to cry but don’t actually want to. It brought me back to a time when I was an Ogre! The line rings so true but it’s not just Ogres that have layers. People do too.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I am a Veteran. Have a I mentioned I am also a princess? I played Fiona at the Paramount Theatre back when Josh was in the State Patrol Academy. It is still one of my favorite plays to have been apart of!

I remember these images from when I brought them to be placed on my headstone…You see, upon designing Josh’s headstone, I began designing my own as well. Not because I plan to die anytime soon but because I don’t want our kids to wonder “what would mom want?” and struggle through designing like I did with Josh’s. “Willie” the gentleman who so graciously helps with monuments, placed the photos side by side because even he was like “how do you go from gun toting bad assery to a princess?!” Let’s just say, I make it work HOOAH!

I feel like everything in life is an onion. I dig deeper and I cry, sometimes it just plain stinks, and of course, all the layers. The worst part is it doesn’t wash away. It goes with me wherever I go.

This thought started before the fourth but I spent a day trying to figure out how I would put it into words. It began when I was discussing receiving a service dog. A gal kindly asked, “A service dog? For?” she proceeded to state how “ok” I seem and that I seem to being doing very well given the circumstances.

Truth is, anyone can wear a smile when they’re hurting. It’s why they say to treat everyone with kindness because you never know what they are or have gone through. That’s the interesting thing about mental illnesses that people don’t ever want to talk about. I can be dying inside and smiling at you at the same time. I can be calm in a crowd but screaming on the inside. I can be laughing with joy while my heart cries in agony.

I will be so happy to watch our kids grow while simultaneously grieving that Josh isn’t here to witness it.

Everyone has layers. Different interests, different feelings, different ideas of how things should be. I can be happy and sad at the same time. Laughing while grieving, smiling while crying.

I wish more people took time to peel back layers instead of taking things at face value. Maybe then there would be more understanding in this world.

All I know it, there is going to be more layers added as life changes and sometimes those layers are gonna get rotten but peel them back, throw them away and deep fry an onion blossom with the rest!

I’m not always be smiling inside but I will always be ok. I have two great kids, a wonderful boyfriend and the best support system a girl could ask for.

Always be kind and always know, you can be bad ass and a princess too 😉

Behind the wheel of your truck

Camping was always your thing Josh. You took this old city girl, brought her out into the wilderness but assured her it would be the best kind of camping… you weren’t wrong. We bought a travel trailer first and you hauled that sucker wherever your dad said we were going. I honestly never knew where we were going because you and dad planned it out and I just followed you. I remember the first time you took me camping…

I still don’t remember what location we were at but I remember asking, as you sat around the fire reading a book, “what are we doing today?” you looked up, raised your book, pointed to the fire and said “this is it!”.

I could not fathom how reading a book around a fire was enjoyable. I still don’t understand the reading a book part but to each their own 😉 I think I stayed inside the camper and cleaned it top to bottom three times over because I just didn’t know what to do with myself.

Eventually, camping grew on me. I still have yet to read a book around a fire but I do get to the bonfire every now and again.

In the last few weeks I decided I was ready to trade in our camper. By this point we had already traded up a few times and moved into a fifth wheel. I took our fifth wheel to Itasca for our annual trip the August immediately following your death and the year after. It was easy to pull and had space but functionality wise with Amelia, it wasn’t cutting it.

I cried when I did the paperwork. I cried when I began clearing it out. I cried when I dropped it off.

I found a new camper that fits the new dynamic of our family with the two kids; a bunkhouse style like we always talked about. You’d be proud! Not only would you be proud of the wheeling and dealing I did (with Brads help because you know I’ve never been good at negotiating) but also proud that I continue to camp despite it never really being “my thing”.

It’s Memorial Day weekend and this weekend has always been hard for me as a Veteran. It’s harder as a widow too because I feel that pain all over for all the widows and widowers out there.

However, in preparation for this weekend and in the spirit of keeping camping alive in our kids, I got behind the wheel of your truck and pulled my new fifth wheel camper. It was nerve racking having two kids in the truck and an extra 36 feet behind us but we made it! You’d also be proud that I backed it in myself! Hard to believe I know! I did have guidance on the ground but it was me behind the wheel 🙂

It’s a beauty Josh; this camper is. The first thing I did was decorate it with coordinating colors and I could envision your eye roll and head shake as I excitedly point out that even the dishes match the comforters!

I still keep you very present and even around the fire, with Brad by my side, we talked about you and laughed about all of the good times. I heard you visited in the form of an Eagle just above the tree line too! I always seem to miss you because if the toddler doesn’t need me, the baby does.

I wouldn’t trade these kids for a pound of chocolate!

We did a damn good job making beautiful creatures and thanks to the village you left me with, they will become incredible humans!

Thanks for teaching me to camp in the most glamorous form! There’s no way I would have ever done any of this had it not been for you!

I’ll get behind the wheel of your truck over and over but I still won’t read book… we love and miss you Josh. The kids already love camping and having their own bunks, even if Amelia still sleeps with Nana most nights.

Thanks for helping me create traditions I never knew I wanted.

Never easy walking away

Death changes you. Especially when you loved them with a fierceness that seemingly died with them.

You get to a point where some things just aren’t worth fighting for and you tend to just keep your mouth shut. This may come as a shock to some since I have typically been outspoken however, there is a time and place for it.

I know well enough now when to just “let it go” but, sometimes, letting it go, means letting people go. Walking away from situations and people that don’t bring me joy.

It’s never easy walking away from someone who once brought you joy. Sometimes a little distance is needed.

I’ve never been a materialistic person but I have been a person who relies heavily on respect and integrity. I had a rough go at the respect and integrity thing in High School but then again, we are all learning and growing then too.

Through life challenges, deployment, and death, I have grown exponentially.

I firmly believe in telling people how you feel, good or bad, because you may never get the chance. However, if it’s “bad”, I believe in discussion over phone call or in person because we all know how easily it is to misread a text message.

You can never deny someone’s feelings even if you do not understand why they feel the way they do. What you can do is agree to disagree and move on from the issue.

If I have ever given you my love, I felt you deserved it. If I have ever pulled away, there’s a reason. Whether you understand why or not, is up to you. I will no longer go out of my way to make people understand why I feel the way I do. It just is. Life has changed me and if you really want to know why; TALK TO ME!

Do not just assume I am intentionally cutting you out of my life. Maybe, just maybe, I am waiting for the right time to address the issue so that both sides can be heard without misunderstandings.

Life is hard. Grief is different. Emotions are high. Patience is pertinent.

It’s never easy to walk away but sometimes it’s all you can do to keep yourself from falling into the dark.

In the background

It was mentioned today how “unsettling” it must be to some to see a picture of me with my new boyfriend and in the background, see a picture of Josh.

I wasn’t even upset at that. I simply responded, “This is my life now. No matter where I go, Josh will always be there in the background.”

I’ll never be upset with someone who is trying to understand the process when they haven’t been in our shoes and I will pray that they find that understanding and never have to be in these shoes.

The funny thing about social media is it’s so easy to see and judge without understanding and I encourage those who don’t get it, to reach out and try to understand because grief needs to be talked about. Grief is not a one size fits all. Not everyone grieving is willing to discuss it but I’ve pretty much always been an open book and I am not afraid to talk about the tough stuff.

It brought me back to a time when I wasn’t so understanding… I remember meeting a woman at a group meeting for police wives. She stated she was a widow and I grew curious and remember looking up her facebook page. We were friends through our mutual group but I remember looking through her pictures and looking at dates… I noted when suddenly the pictures changed from her late husband to her chapter two. I tried to place timing on when I thought and perceived she had “moved on”. How naive and judgmental I was back then, when I was madly in love with my husband.

Fast forward a few years and in the blink of an eye, I became a widow too. Suddenly, everything she had done with her life made sense. She reached out to me and we met for lunch. The first thing I did to this God fearing woman was apologize. I remember saying something along the lines of “Audrey before we say anything, let me apologize….” She forgave me. Then we began to talk about life after losing the loves of our lives. I was so grateful that she had forgiven me and she encourages me now to continue to do life my way.

That’s exactly what I am doing.

Life.

My way.

I am unapologetic in the decisions I make. I wish I wasn’t apart of the widows club but the fact is that I am.

God’s plan was not my plan but His timing is something worth having faith in.

His love is worth giving grace for. Whether it be for others or for oneself.

I will never “move on” from the loss of Josh but I will forever continue moving forward in life. I owe it to myself and both kids to not get stuck in a place of darkness. I have and continue to still be blessed and I have to pick up those blessings and run with it because not everyone gets a second chance at life or love.

Life is far too short and though I may be broken, I am still worth loving and I have a hell of a lot of love yet to give.

Loss transforms you into a new person and that person becomes who new chapters fall in love with. Without being broken, I may have never found the road to where I am.

Losing Josh will always hurt but he will always be with me. Finding someone who understands that is a blessing.

Typically I’d say loving two people at the same time is not ok (insert small chuckle here) but when it comes to finding love after such a loss, it’s inevitable.

Being with someone who creates a calm in you, allows you to cry, is patient, and isn’t afraid to share your heart… well folks, thats what you call a “keeper”.

Sometimes we find ourselves in troubled waters and then we find a lighthouse that guides us home.

Love is like a lighthouse, a beacon in the dark.

20 months gone by

Not a day goes by that we don’t think of you Josh. Every night we still send special blessings up to “Daddy in Heaven”. It’s hard to think its been this long without your laugh, your smile, your witty one liners and your ability to calm my every storm.

On this day however, instead of staying in bed and crying to myself in heartbreak, I am trying to choose happiness and am taking the kids to Duluth….rather, Brad is taking the kids and I to Duluth.

Brad and I started talking prior to my IVF journey but I was so tired of online dating and everything that came with it, I shut down my account…without letting him know. We call that “ghosting” these days. Needless to say, I recently opened my profile back up and viola! there he was and he again sent the first message. (Because I’m too chicken shit to make the first move).

In our short time together, we’ve gone on many dates, shared many stories, and he even helped me pick the spring flowers for your grave Josh. Brad lets me talk about you, doesn’t become jealous or intimidated, and remains pretty chill even when I feel myself getting high strung.

He has a lot of your qualities and I think you’d like him. He’s great with the kids and he’s patient with me. You know how much I need a man with patience 😉

I still cant believe he willingly took me and the kids to Duluth! I guess it will show how he does with kids, a high strung lady and show how well we work as a team. You and I always made a great team Josh. I think Brad and I will too.

It is still incredibly difficult to live simultaneously with heartbreak and happiness but I am trying my hardest because I don’t want to be alone and I know you don’t want me to be either. I often wonder if you sent him because despite my incredible investigative skills, I have yet to find a red flag…. maybe thats a red flag?! KIDDING!

He is calm, quiet, compassionate, understanding, and ever so patient. I guess thats always been the balance I’ve needed given everything I deal with daily.

Many of you are not aware but I suffer from PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression. There, I wrote it out loud. Josh helped me stay on track and losing him has brought on a whole new version of the daily battles. Some call it hiding, some call it high functioning- either way, I stay busy with life. When life slows down, it tends to shine through more. It’s taken on new forms but I’ve worked through it while trying to find happiness again.

Brad is my new calm side and it makes me happy (and nervous) that he’s willing, despite knowing all of the above, to take the three of us on and jump in without hesitation. It means the world to us and I just pray that with time, I can let him in like I did Josh. But, that scares me too. Do I dare get as close as I was to my husband out of fear God will take him too? Do I allow my walls to fall and feel as though I’m betraying my husband by falling in love again? I know, these thoughts shouldn’t happen because I deserve to be happy again but they are inevitable.

All I know is Brad makes me happy right now in this moment. So if I continue to live in these happy moments they may turn into long journeys and it just might be ok. I will be ok. If I never loved again, I’d be miserable so I do my best to continue to try. I owe it to myself because I have so much love to give.

20 months have gone by but the pain of losing you is fresh. 20 months have gone by and I feel myself being able to love the way I loved you. I am scared. I am nervous but I am open and willing to try to feel that kind of love again in a new way.

Noone will ever replace you Josh. I miss you. I hope we are making you proud. I love you.

Solid Foundation

I pray my children follow God’s word and live a life full of faith. Faith is a solid foundation and I want that for my kids. Gabriel was baptized toda so both kids are on track to being closer to God.

Father Steve

It was wonderful to have Father Steve Baptize Gabriel as he is also the priest who Baptized Amelia, wed Josh and I and spoke at Josh’s funeral. Having someone familiar and that knew Josh meant so much. It meant Josh wouldn’t be overlooked just because he’s out of sight. I’ll admit, Baptism was harder for me than I had expected. I cried off and on the entire 1 hour drive there. Gabriel wore an outfit made by Cheryl and he was surrounded by so many people that love him and will help him grow in faith. I am blessed and I know Josh would be proud.

I also want my kids to always know how much they are loved and give them a solid foundation at home too. Unfortunately, this means playing bad cop sometimes. It’s not my favorite part of parenting but I can’t imagine it would be any parents favorite part. Discipline, routine, and patience are at the heart of the foundation of our home life. I know they need structure, dependability, and love. So far, it’s working. Even though it pains me to see my children cry, we end every disagreement with a hug and an “I love you”. It’s not Amelias fault that she is too young to control her emotions and it most certainly isn’t her fault that I am all she has left for a parent.

I often wonder how Josh would handle it all. I’ve seen him under pressure in a law enforcement setting but never to a toddler as headstrong as he was. Let me just say, it’s a treat (insert sarcasm).

Amelia continues to adjust well to Gabriel and is the best helper. She loves her baby brother, her daddy and her mommy… I know this because she tells me everyday!

She may not always eat what I cook but she knows I try. She may not always agree with me, but she knows I do my best. She may not always get me to herself but she knows I still love her with every ounce of my being. Gabriel will feel all these things in time as well. His daddy sure knew how to pick the perfect baby!

These two give me hope, love, happiness, and a reason for a solid foundation in which to grow from. God knew what He was doing with these two and I am blessed.

Underestimated

Its easy to underestimate just what one person is capable of. Today was no different.

I was asked a while ago if I would be willing to share my story at a conference for funeral directors, monument makers and folks of those sorts.

In a room of about 100 or so, I stood before them with a 4 page print out of a shortened version to our story.

“Josh came from a loving well-rounded family and loved the outdoors! He was an Eagle Scout and avid hunter. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science and moved on to receive his master’s degree in law Enforcement. Faith, family and education were huge priorities in his life.

I came from a not so well-rounded family and joined the military when I was 17 years old. I was from the city and very much enjoyed having stores in close proximity. I was not a star student in HS nor was I the perfect child. I deployed to Iraq in 2008. It was there my faith was strengthened and I began to see light in the midst of tragedy.

I had never believed in fairytales and so when I was ready to share my life with someone, I decided to look online because really, who meets their soulmate in a library anymore? I remember seeing Josh’s profile, thinking “He’s super cute! Oh, wait he’s a cop…ummmmm” Let’s just say I’ve always been a rule bender… We started talking and after our first date we were well on our way to our own fairytale.

It took a year of dating before we moved into together but once that move was made, we knew for sure we’d follow each other anywhere. Josh took this city girl far into what I consider the country since there’s about a dozen corn fields I pass just to get to work….

We were always rooting for each other, lifting each other up and discussing life changes together, always.

I remember him going off to the State Patrol academy while I was in school for Cardiovascular Technology. We lived apart. In that time, we also found out we were pregnant, and he would be stationed 3 hours away. But we made it work. Our love was unconditional, and it stretched further than any distance between us. After a year of being so far apart and the birth of our daughter Amelia, we were finally transferred back to the St. Cloud area. We found a rental while we began to build our dream home so we could stop living like gypsies and plant some roots.

I remember for a month he complained of not feeling well and he would then feel ok after being on meds but start feeling like crap once they were done. I remember hugging him and saying you need to have them draw your blood you’ve been sick long enough. However, not once did I actually think his results would show what they did.

I was just getting off of work and he decided to go to urgent care with our daughter in tow. I met him there to get her so we could keep her on her sleep schedule. I left him there. I still can’t believe I left him there. It was 9:30 pm and I had just laid our daughter down (finally) and he says, “They think I have cancer” I don’t think I spoke for some time because I remember him asking “are you there?”

I told him I’d be there as soon as someone came to be with our daughter. I packed our bags and simultaneously called his nurse who happened to be a friend of mine and begged them to recheck the vials and be sure they didn’t get mixed up. The next morning June 4th. It was confirmed. My Josh had leukemia. We made it a mission to beat it and so the flurry of doctor visits began, and plans were put forth.

He had a bone marrow transplant Oct 2016 and we moved our lives to Rochester while our daughter lived with his parents. I only left his side for clinical weekends because by this point, I had graduated my cardiovascular program and moved on for nursing. It was always tough to leave him because I knew him best, but he always told me to go because he wanted to see me succeed. So once a month I would go to clinicals and come right back to living in the hospital room with Josh.

There were many ups and downs throughout his recovery after the transplant. Lots of issues and missteps in treatment. We kept fighting for them to do more about his lungs, but he had improved enough to go home so in Feb 2017 we went home to the house we had built and never lived in. In April Josh went back to work but his cough was still there, and I finally put my foot down and told them they will do something! So, we went down for a bronchoscopy to take a look and that’s when the downhill spiral began. He went into respiratory failure after the procedure. He would recover from this and undergo further testing’s and medication trials etc.

Almost a year to the day since diagnosis on June 1, 2017. A doctor pulled me aside to tell me the damage had been done. Josh’s lungs were now only functioning at 30%. He explained that Josh would probably never be a trooper again and his quality of life would be poor. That was the first night I chose to not stay with Josh. How could I look at my husband in the eye and not tell him what was said? I hid this from him and his family because I truly believed if he kept fighting, we would win.  I never told him.

I could tell he was growing tired of the treatments and the ups and downs, but I selfishly wanted him to keep going because I refused to admit he wouldn’t make it. Josh was intubated another 4 times in the two months leading up to his death. In his final week, the doctor came in and asked Josh if he wanted to be DNR. He was awake and nodded yes. I said “wait what? We talked about this and as long as you can have a quality of life?!” Josh simply mouthed to me “I don’t have a quality of life now” and with that I allowed my husband to have his wish. The wife in me was furious but the nurse in me knew I couldn’t let him be miserable. 3 days later we removed cares and I laid next to him far beyond his last breath.

In the minutes, hours, days, months after his death it was a blur. You wonder how you will make it, how God could have taken such an incredible being the “what if’s” and “could I have done more’s” swirl around your mind. Having been in the medical field for so long, I often wondered if there was more, I could have done. The what if we would have gotten other opinions lingered and the tears, well those came like a steady stream.

One day, my daughter saw me crying and brought me a tissue. She said “I miss daddy” I hugged her and said me too. With that I decided that it was going to be ok if she saw me cry and it was going to be ok if we missed daddy all the time because honestly, how could we not. Throughout the grieving I witnessed the many different levels. Parents grieving a son, a sister grieving a brother, and a daughter who will never remember her dad. I made it my duty to ensure that while she won’t get to know her dad, I will not allow her to forget him. I also vowed to give her someone to grieve with o the same level.

Upon Josh’s initial diagnosis we postponed chemotherapy to bank his sperm. We were young, in love, and not done making a family. We obviously assumed he would be here, but I guess God has his own plans. I have never met a man more dependable, hardworking, passionate and humble as Josh was. Nor had I ever met a man willing and able to put up with my kind of crazy! He was my calm in every storm.

Losing him put me on a path of growth I never really wanted but I’d say I’ve come out on top. I could have let his death define me and choose not to move forward but instead I chose joy and I chose life.

On Jan 3, 2019 I gave birth to our son Gabriel Michael. I chose Gabriel because Josh never argued this with me when we were picking names with our daughter… (he knew I was firm on having a baby Gabe) and Michael for the archangel protector of law enforcement.

Somedays it’s still hard to believe I have a baby boy, but I hope one day these kids share in their grief and know just how much they were loved by him.

The kids keep me going because obviously you can’t just throw in the towel on being a mom although sometimes, they bring ya close 😉

The biggest things that keep me going is Josh’s memory. Our family is complete, and I want them to always know and remember how amazing he was. I started a scholarship fund in Josh name so other can get education in his honor. And above all else, I continue to say his name, speak of memories and spread joy because I refuse to let his name fade for that would only cause him to die again.

Our kids will know who he was: Kind, humble, courageous, loyal, patient (he had to be with a wife like me!)

Moving forward is a choice and it’s not easy but it’s the life I’ve been given and not only do my children deserve a life of love and happiness, but I do as well.

My fairytale was certainly not like the movies, but it lasted long enough for me to know what love is and how to spread that love so that Josh’s memory never fades. “

I underestimated the strength I had to get through this but I also underestimated the energy that goes toward aiding that strength. As I left the facility, I headed to pick up Amelia from daycare. Once home, in the house we built, I felt a warmth come over my body and I was hit with pure exhaustion. I underestimated the emotional exhaustion that goes into sharing our story, even 19 months later. Even my body aches after today.

I most certainly don’t regret sharing because I think it’s important for people to understand the many different avenues of grief and realize, especially in their profession, just how big of a roll they play.

I’ve learned to live a life that while laced with pain and grief, I simultaneously experience joy and happiness. I’ll continue to speak Josh’s name and raise our kids to be willful, persistent, and compassionate humans. So, heres to you Josh, thank you for giving me my own version of a fairytale. I’ll carry your love with me always.

Donut grow up

I can’t believe our baby turned 4!! We spent the week having celebrations with all the different families but the biggest party was at home. “Donut Grow Up” themed. Amelia LOVES going to the bakery with Papa and so we decided to have a donut party! I devoured way more than my allotted calorie intake for the day….no regrets!

It’s a bitter sweet day for multiple reasons. Feb 18th is the day my friend Amie passed away from Pancreatic cancer. She was diagnosed months before Josh was diagnosed and died mere months before Josh died. I look at how our lives paralleled and its heart breaking. I stand where her husband stands and witness him do what I do in not only keeping our spouses memory alive, but giving our kids the best live we can.  I know how much it hurts to lose a spouse and every February 18th, I sent them extra prayers for strength, love and hope.

This year was also bitter sweet because I realize that as Amelia gets older, she gets further away from the amount of time she had with her dad. By the time she turns 5, she will have lived longer than the amount of time that Josh was her daddy.

It’s heartbreaking.

But its also amazing to watch your kids grow. She is growing into the most amazing little girl. She is beyond helpful and affectionate towards baby brother Gabriel and she just loves the title “Big Sister”

She often says off the wall things and can be inquisitive to the point of annoyance, but I love her still.

Amelia is my sour patch kid. She is sour for a short while and then is full of sweetness. It’s the sweet side that makes up for the sour and either way, I know, it won’t last forever.

She still wants to snuggle mom, dance, and build things etc and I do my best to always be present. I want her to remember that even though mom cried, she laughed too.

It’s not easy raising kids let alone after your spouse died. Every new thing you wish they were there to see but then you’re reminded when they say or do something that you wouldn’t, it was probably their dad whispering in their ear to do so just to drive me nuts.

Amelia will often pause for a moment just to say, “Mommy, I love you”. That carries me more than she will ever know.

I don’t always know if I’m doing it right and often, I doubt my abilities but that one sentence, those four words, they are my strength.

Amelia turns 4 and she continues to impress me with her resilience, her compassion, and her thought process. My lovely sour patch kid that I adore and appreciate every second of every day. Donut grow up so fast because mommy enjoys these days and I know it wont be like this for long.