It was an unseasonably freezing cold day, five days after Christmas, when our lives were changed forever. The unexpected happened, and we lost one of the few we love the most. The most wonderful time of year ended with us grieving hard and having to plan a funeral we didn’t expect to plan. You hear of people losing a parent, but it doesn’t hit home until it’s one of your own. In this case, it was my father-in-law, who was a huge part of our lives. Watching your mother-in-law, your spouse, and your children grieve while dealing with the grief yourself, is its own form of personal hell and one that I dread having to go through three more times as our parents age.
It was tough. There were days that went by when I couldn’t even wrap my head around what we were going through and why. Why did this happen to him? Why did this happen to us? How is my mother-in-law going to get through this when he was literally all she’s ever known? We coped, we mourned, and we came out on the other side, because what other choice do we have? With all of this somewhat behind us, our lives were forever changed. How could it not be? Our circle of friends changed, our life priorities changed, and most of all, our outlook on life in general changed.
When you lose someone you love, the condolences roll in. People love on you and offer you support. Some show up to the funeral and offer you the love and support you need during that moment of intense sorrow. Some show up after and feed you and make sure your family is taken care of. Some are there through it all. And then, some don’t show up at all — and that is a cold, hard solid truth. Our tried and true friends showed up for us, and they continued to constantly show up. They loved us and the kids so hard. We were lucky enough to have friends take us in one day later for New Year’s Eve to make sure our kids still had a good night. It can still bring me to my knees thinking about it. Those are the people who are still around, and I will forever be thankful. And those who acted as if nothing happened — they are water under the bridge. Buh-bye. I am one of the worst when it comes to death and what to do or say, BUT DO SOMETHING. A quick text, an email, a card. I know it can be awkward and triggering for some. It is for me, so I get it. It matters to your friend, though. True friends are each other’s lifelines, especially during a crisis. The worst part is that life goes on for everyone else, but not for your family. Things still aren’t the same. The holidays are still tough and may always will be. Be that friend, the friend who still checks in a week, a month, a year later.
After that unexpected day, we vowed to do whatever possible to make sure we are around longer for our children. We cleaned up our diets, we cut down our alcohol consumption (and let me tell you, that cut down on the party invites!), and we made our fitness and health and wellness, a priority. We want to set an example for our kids to live better and be better. We still love to eat and have a good time, it’s now just all in moderation. It’s worth it to us to be the best we can be and to be around for the long run!
Do my kids annoy me? YES. Does my spouse annoy me? UMM, YES. But I will never take a second with them for granted. The six months of quarantine were a huge challenge. We were so over each other! Yet, that time was so precious. Time I shouldn’t have been able to have with them, and when it really sucked, I tried to remind myself of this. We now make our family time count. Afterall, they are my favorite people. Why wasn’t I appreciating them the way that I should? Personally, it upsets me to know that it took a tragedy to appreciate what was right under my nose. While I cherish my time with friends and love the times I get with them, what goes on inside the four walls of my home is ultimately no. 1.
Whatever you make or take from this rant… please, make or return the call. Take a few hours to go to lunch or dinner. Send a daily text. Take that trip together. I can promise you this, you will regret it if you don’t. We miss him and love him so much, and I know he’d be proud of what we’ve become. Not only what we have accomplsihed since he’s been gone, but how we have rallied together as a family to support each other. We have become so much closer, and I just wish he was here to be a part of it.