Today marks the 1 year anniversary of the day my heart broke to pieces, my world took a devastating hit, and my love for my family grew 100 times. My Mom unexpectedly died January 5, 2012 of heart failure.

A little back story… The beginning of 2012, was very rough for me. I had just made a major change in my life, December 2011 my ex and I amicably called it quits after 4 years and I moved into a friend’s house (Liz and Jonathan Melville). I wound up going to Greenville for 2 weeks and spending Christmas with my parents, and healing my heart. My Mom and I decorated the tree and she told me where each ornament came from and what it meant to her, she cooked and taught me how to make the famous secret family noodles recipe, we discussed my decision to move on with my life, we laughed and spent lots of time together. On Christmas Eve she went above and beyond to create a fantastic meal, and to our surprise, she decided this year she would make a HUGE Christmas morning spread, unparalleled in our lifetime of Christmas mornings. The whole family was together and it’s exactly what she wanted… plus she held Isabel most of the time. I headed back to Atlanta and spent New Years with friends, while she and my Dad celebrated at Kristin and Jonathon’s house.

Only 4 days after New Years celebrations had ended my Dad called me at 1:24pm and with a weak voice said “your mom has died.” I stood up from my chair and I literally did not understand the words he had just said. Once he repeated those words, I fell to my knees and could not contain my tears. After he told me the gist of what happened that afternoon, only one hour prior to this phone call she was alive… and like that, she was gone. Ripped from my world. I called Liz first, and as soon as she answered, my voice was flooded with tears and I had to scream what happenedĀ in order for me to get the words out. Without hesitation she was on her way home to be with me. I called my other best friend Amy, which Liz had already made a quick call to, and screamed again. Amy comforted me by phone until Liz showed up and found me curled up on the floor crying. My world felt like it was over.

I will not ever forget this day. IĀ still have a heavy heart, and I continue to be emotional, even as I write this.

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The rest of 2012 was difficult, but there were definite bright spots, like that I believe my Mom brought me to the man of my dreams. While still grieving from January, I began dating Ryan in April. Three days after we met, we were “officially” dating. Two weeks later, he had his own personal family tragedy, his father passed away from a battle with lung cancer. Though I was still dealing with my own issues getting through my Mom’s death, I was suddenly and for the first time ever, prepared to help someone else through their own emotional roller coaster. Suffice it to say, it brought us very close and created a connection between us that is unbreakable. We both understand how fragile life is, and because of that we do not take advantage of our time together. I am so thankful that Ryan was brought into my life, and I think my Mom had a hand in it.

But since this is her anniversary, I want to celebrate her and acknowledge a day that changed my life. I plan on releasing two white balloons at 12:30 this afternoon, the approximate time she died, one for the memories of the life that I lived with her in it, and the other for the life I will live with her from above. Take a moment today and hug your loved ones that are close, and for the ones farther away give them a call and tell them you love them.

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As I head out for my day, I’d like to share a poem I saved especially for today.

I’m Still Here… By Unknown
My sweet children, I know you mourn for me,
I’m still here, even though you don’t see.
I’m right by your side each night and day,
And within your heart I long to stay.

My body is gone but I will always be near,
I am everything you feel, see and hear.
My spirit is free, but we’re never apart,
As long as you keep me alive in your heart.

I’ll never wander out of your sight,
I’m the brightest star on a summer night.
I will never be beyond your reach,
I’m the warm sand when your at the beach.

I’m the colorful leaves when Autumn’s around,
And the pure white snow that blankets the ground.
I’m the beautiful flowers of which you’re so fond,
The clear cool water in a quiet, still pond.

I’m the brightest blossom you’ll see in the spring,
The first warm raindrop that April will bring.
I’m the first ray of light when the sun starts to shine,
And you’ll see that the face in the moon is mine.

When you start to think there’s no one to love you,
You can talk to me through the sky above you.
I’ll whisper my answer through the leaves of the trees,
And you’ll feel my presence in the soft summer breeze.

I’m the river of tears that flow when you weep,
And the beautiful dreams that come while you sleep.
I’m the smile that spreads across your sweet face,
Just look for me, my loves, I am every place.

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