Dave was not that kind of person he was silly, crazy and always the center of attention. He was almost always laughing and smiling and causing chaos. It would be a tragedy to remember him with tears.
As anyone who has ever experienced a loss will tell you, the anniversary day of their passing can be extremely distressing for those who love and miss them. When I was approaching the 1st anniversary of Dave’s passing I was really struggling with it. How did I honor him? How did I make him proud and help the family to take a day to remember him in a positive way? I couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t be sad and create a room full of tears.
Dave was not that kind of person he was silly, crazy and always the center of attention. He was almost always laughing and smiling and causing chaos. It would be a tragedy to remember him with tears.
My mother-in-law said “I wonder if they are celebrating his birthday in heaven like we do with newborn babies, maybe he is having a party for his 1st birthday back in heaven”. This got me thinking, maybe just maybe that was true. I could live with this being a celebration of his Angelversary- the day he got his angel wings. Maybe heaven is sad when we get a newborn baby because it is a soul they are missing? HMMMM…. Now what to do with this idea…
I decided to declare April 28th LIVE LOUD Day and since the first year he was gone we have had a celebration. We actually look forward to the day now as a positive day to remember someone so loved. We have a party for those close to us and we invite everyone, even people who did not know him to do something they wouldn’t normally do in celebration of his life. There have been tattoo’s done, haircuts for Locks of Love, indoor skydiving, and many other fun activities. I love to hear the stories and see the pics of what people do.
Dave was very fond of his butt and showed it often! The first year we had all the girls in the family write his name or nickname from Dave on their hips or back and got pics of that, even the baby had it on her diaper. In my mind I picture Dave with his silly grin saying “that’s my girl”.
I still think of him and miss him every day, it will be 4 years on April 28th and I am sad because he is not here and the younger grandchildren will not have the memories of him that the others do. It is my job to teach them a little bit about him. LIVE LOUD is the way we do that. We are planning our party and everyone is planning their individual LIVE LOUD. Mine this year is the 30 day Bikram Yoga Challenge.
Will you join us? Even if you never knew Dave, everyone’s life can only be enhanced by living in the moment and LIVING LOUD. You never know what the future holds but you do know that today can be a magical day for memories. Please share your stories about your LIVE LOUD celebration!
My brother-in-law bought my sister a Shocklight, it is a combination flashlight/ Stun Gun. My sister demonstrated how you turn the flashlight on and off and what it sounds like when you push the button for the tazer. At this point the dogs in the house were hiding and all of the adults (no children were present) were impressed and thinking that they would be very very careful while handling this wonderful defense mechanism.
I think we have already established that my mind doesn't work like most peoples. While they were taking the "Not a toy" message on the front of the box very seriously, my mind was deciding what part of my body I was going to try it on first. No, I am not into pain but curiosity is one of my biggest traits. Besides, how could I possibly allow my sister to carry this item in her purse thinking she was safe when it might just be a gimmick and really not work at all? I tried to get T to do it for me but he refused! He was even sweet enough to offer to take it for me so that I wouldn't have to. I have been told by people in the past that my recklessness should not affect the people around me so I couldn't allow him to do that for me. The entire time we were debating my decision around the table with the guys egging me on and the girls begging me not to, I was deciding if I should do it on my skin or through clothes. Given the probability that an attacker would be dressed- we hope, I decided through my shirt would be best.
I waited for the people around the table to be busy and most were not looking when I finally got the courage up and pressed the Shocklight to my arm and pushed the button. The muscle in my arm immediately contracted and almost threw itself off of the light. An intense zap went through my arm and it would certainly stun an attacker if used. It didn't leave a mark and the pain did not last. We read the directions after that, yes I said after (again I do not claim to be all that smart). Luckily, I didn't test it for 5 seconds because it would have thrown me to the floor and left me confused. Phew! Good thing I was smart enough not to do that! It also stated that if you used the Stun Gun on an attacker you should help them to the floor because they may be accidently injured otherwise.
This is not a paid advertisement for the Shocklight and they have not paid me for this review. It does work, at least it would be "shocking" to an attacker. If you could manage to hold it to them for 5 seconds please remember to help them to the ground because we wouldn't want them to be injured! It does have a safety feature that if it were pulled out of your hands it would disable the tazer feature. I can safely say that my sister can carry it in her purse with some sense of security.
This just leaves one question... there were 10 adults who came in contact with this Shocklight and while there were some who had a moment of thought about what it would feel like to try, only one was crazy enough to actually do it. What is wired so differently in my head that makes me that one person? Maybe I'm not really crazy maybe it was simply a sincere desire to protect my sister! OK maybe not! Maybe it is purely for others entertainment!
I have been meaning to write this for a while. What do you do when you find yourself suddenly widowed and after 3 1/2 years ready to marry again? Wow! I can't begin to tell you what a difficult decision that is. Do you want a large wedding or a small intimate wedding? Do you change your name? How will your family feel about this choice? With all these questions ringing in my head, I started researching my options.
I had found an amazing man to marry who loves me in spite of all my crazy so at least I had the hardest part taken care of. We wanted a small, sweet event and we wanted a big party to celebrate the joining of our lives. When it came time to choose we decided to do both! How do you like that for decision making? We were going to invite just a few people to go with us to get married on 10/11/12 and then realized that once you start inviting people, where do you stop? If even one of my kids come, of course all of our children must be there! As much as I wanted my parents and friends there, where do you stop inviting? All of a sudden our little wedding was getting very big. We decided to do it with just the two of us, we would elope, just us! We will have a party for the whole family at a later date.
Mendocino is so breathtaking this photo was taken on my camera phone
Being me, I looked at adventure weddings. Did you know you can get married just about anywhere? I finally decided on something beautiful and peaceful and serene. Everytime I put in my search "elope, beach, private, wedding" I would see Mendocino, California. When I first saw Mendocino I thought that the pictures were exagerating the beauty but no matter where I looked and who took the photo it was still beautiful. It was strange planning such an important day to somewhere I have never been before but somehow it just seemed right!
Now I needed to figure out how to plan a beautiful seaside wedding at a reasonable cost from 790 miles away. I found Elope Mendocino and started working with Vanna. The prices were very reasonable and her assistance was priceless. She listened to my vision and gave suggestions of locations or people who could help me plan an amazing day. With Vanna's assistance we wrote our vows, she helped me set up a florist, a baker and gave me all the information I needed to get our California wedding licence. She also helped me locate our seaside getaway. We chose to stay at Agate Cove which gave us our own private space at a breathtaking location. The Innkeepers at Agate Cove were incredible and helpful. They made our day so magical. She even helped us to book our photographer; Derek Magdalik with Fotomendo.com.
Reno, photo taken on my camera phone
We decided to drive so we could see all of the sites so Therion and I started our adventure by driving to Reno. By purchasing a Groupon we were able to stay overnight for under $40. I said I was thrifty didn't I? We had a nice evening in Reno, walked around and had some drinks. It was a nice start. We woke up the next morning and began our drive into California. After a pit stop to pick up our wedding license which was a very quick and easy process. We were on our way through Montgomery Woods State Park, admiring the magestic Redwood Trees as we twitsted and turned through the mountain.
We found our adorable little hideaway at Agate Cove and enjoyed our private deck and the beauty of the flowers, trees and the ragged shores of the ocean.
The next day we awoke to a day that was a bit chilly and a little overcast, it was October after all. We spent some time walking through town and visiting some of the sites. As it became time to get ready, I was able to use the very large bathroom to get ready while Therion used the mirror available in the main room. Once he was ready he slipped out and went to wait in the main house while I got into my dress and prepared for my walk down the flower lined walks at Agate Cove to the edge of the ocean.
Vanna spoke with Therion for a few moments and then came to help me with my dress, flowers and the meeting with the photographer. I began my walk from our little cottage passing beautiful flowers, manicured lawns and sweet little pathways. Therion and I saw each other for the first time as we met at the main house, he took my hand and we walked toward the ocean. He looked so handsome!
To be honest it felt strange not having any family there but it was so magical we were swept away with the ocean breeze, the sounds of the sea, the smells of the flowers mixed with the ocean and being with someone that I loved so much. Our vow ceremony was beautiful and heartfelt, Vanna did a great job.
Vanna from Elope Mendocino- The official part!
We took photos around the property which was so fun, it felt like we were walking through a dream.
We took a short drive that led to a pathway where I could get my feet in the sand.
The day was magical a little girls fairytale dream. We look forward to the future and our happy ever after.
I just did one of the coolest things ever! I planned and danced in a Flash Mob for Valentine’s Day. We represented One Billion Rising to make a statement about violence against women. Over 200 countries participated. 1 in 3 women will be raped or assaulted which equals approximately 1 Billion Women. 1 Billion Women abused is an atrocity, One Billion people dancing is a revolution!
“Dance in a flash mob” is on many people’s life lists. I didn’t want to just dance in one, I wanted to plan one as well (nobody said I was brilliant). Fate stepped in and put me in touch with some women who had a similar dream and a reason to believe in this cause. We got into the planning mode and things just seemed to come together. Everyone was dedicated to what we were doing and excited to offer their expertise in order to pull off this event.
The planning went forward, the dance was created and placed on YouTube and practice began. We used word of mouth, grass roots tactics and media to spread the word. As the day came closer panic set in!
Who am I to think I can plan a Flash Mob? Did anyone even take the time to learn the dance? I had invited film crews to film it, what if nobody showed up and it was a total flop?
I woke up that day determined to live in the moment and enjoy the day no matter what. We had everything set up in IKEA, the dance was playing over a projector in a room so people could come and practice, speakers and music were ready to go. It was 6pm and there were less than 10 people in the room. I had more cameras and drums than dancers (panic…deep breathing…tree pose). At 6:15 we had about 40 people practicing, not a lot but if the cameras (all 5 of them) cropped really tight maybe we could make it look like more! 6:30 and we had over 100 people in the room practicing, PHEW I could breathe again. It may not be the biggest Flash Mob ever but I wasn’t going to humiliate myself! 6:40 Over 220 people were there, we couldn’t even fit in the room- OH MY GOSH this was really happening!
We started 7 minutes late- but who’s counting? I led the first group of drummers and a girl singing “This Girl is on Fire” through the store gathering customers as we walked. The dancers went to take their places. There were some minor glitches getting all the sound going at the right time but nothing serious. We were packed with dancers and spectators of all ages, men and women. The music started and you can see me on the film looking all around me. Is everyone in place? Is everything working? Anything I need to fix or change? Nope… we were ready! All of a sudden I hear the words of the song that tell me it is time to get in place and before you know it I am dancing! Dancing with hundreds of people and dancing by myself all at once it was magical. For the first time in a very long time I was in the moment, I felt the energy of the crowd around me and danced.
I have learned from this experience that when people dream they can accomplish great things. I learned that dance is a universal language and I learned to be in the moment. I also learned to never, ever try something this big alone or without the right people. With the hard work of Ruth, Jessica, Brandy and so many others we pulled off something incredible. Life is precious, the ability to dance is divine and the capacity to make change is immense when you get a group of people together working for a common goal and believing that anything is possible.
Watch the Flash Mob on YouTube
A hero can be defined as someone who gives their life so others may live. You made a choice in advance, or your family made a choice that saved a life today! In fact, you saved many. You passed from this life but left a legacy of you behind to carry on in your absence.
Because of this choice a grandfather will make memories and tell stories to his grandchildren. A father will give piggy back rides and teach his boys to throw a ball. A mom will cuddle and kiss boo-boo’s as they raise their children to appreciate life and every breath. A father will receive a cornea transplant which will allow him to see his children for the first time. So many situations and stories, a part of you will be included in each one.
We stood in a hospital room watching someone we love die in slow motion; piece by piece, their body shutting down, mind becoming confused, not even able to take care of their most basic needs. We prayed for a transplant and with every prayer we grieved for the family that would lose someone they loved in order for our prayers to come true.
We knew you were going to pass away no matter what we did or prayed for but our hearts were crying for you and your family anyway. We fought through a year of serious illness in and out of the hospital, mostly in. The time was running out and we knew that our loved one would be leaving us soon if a donor was not found.
The night we heard that they had found a donor we cried tears of gratitude and tears of grief. We grieved with your family, we prayed for your soul and we blessed you for making a selfless decision to save others. As the donation process began we sat in our hospital waiting room with great anticipation and concern. We thought of you and your family, gathering in grief as we gathered in hope. Not one moment went by that we were not thinking of you and this wonderful person that we knew nothing about. In our mind you are an angel and your loved ones are the people on this earth carrying out your wishes. I hope they could feel our love and gratitude through their grief. I hope it gave them some small measure of peace.
After the surgery, our loved one woke up with a new radiance to their skin and a twinkle in their eye. We said hello to you for the first time. When the kidneys & liver began to work we celebrated, probably like your mother did when you learned how to use the potty when you were little.
You live in the most beautiful way. Your soul’s job complete and your last act on this earth a selfless act of donation. You have given the gift of life to many and have left your legacy on the world and the life stories of all the people you helped. There are no words that will express the gratitude we have for you and your family. We will be forever grateful, forever in debt and will LIVE LOUD in your honor! Our hero.
For more information on becoming a Donor visit the Donate Life website http://donatelife.net/understanding-donation/statistics/
The statistics are staggering:
All candidates will be less than the sum due to candidates waiting for multiple organs
A friend read my Tarot Cards, she said she hadn't seen anything so fresh and new other than when doing a reading for a high school student just coming out of school, with all of their possibilities ahead of them.
In so many ways, this makes sense to me. Some would say I already had my new beginning, recently getting married and learning to live this life without Dave. I think the last 3 1/2 years were practice so that I could learn how to really begin again.
At the beginning of the reading she asked if there was anything specific I wanted to know. My question was what to expect in the upcoming year. The cards said:
This is probably the strangest thing I have ever said, I am grateful for the word Widow. I used to be terrified of the word, especially when Dave was sick and I knew it was a real possibility. The thought of being a widow was completely and totally unacceptable to me! Widows were old ladies, dressed in black, waiting for their day to join their beloved, NOT ME!
On April 28, 2009 I legally became a widow. I say legally because I refused to accept the title. Checking the widow box on a form was an act of total denial that would cause a huge war in my head. If there was any way that I could avoid the “W” word, I would.
About 4 months after Dave passed away, I was angry. I picked up the word and used it as a weapon or an excuse. I can’t go to that wedding because I am a widow. I won’t mow the lawn because I am a widow. I’m sorry officer; I was distracted which caused me to speed, because I am a widow. I know I am acting crazy, I AM A WIDOW!
After a while I started reaching out to the widowed community and they reached back. The widowed people I met were amazing, strong, incredible people. I started to wear the word as my badge of honor. It became all of who I was for a while. Almost everything I said or did had a direct correlation to me being a widow. I wore the word proudly and allowed it to become my identity. I think this was a necessary stage for me.
Eventually, as I was able to help others, I started to settle into the word. I finally could wear the word proudly but not let it define me and who I am as a person. It is a word that takes care of many explanations in a mere 5 letters. I am a widow that is PART of who I am, I’m also a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a sister and a daughter…
I have now added another name to my title, remarried widow. So many people have commented that now I am remarried, I am no longer a widow. I will always be a widow, I never stopped loving Dave, I never asked for this separation and I never wanted to be a widow. Now that I have gone through the stages of this process, 3 ½ years later, I realize that this word gave me a community, it gave me a diagnosis to my crazy mixed up life, if gave me acceptance and now a new life with wonderful blessings.
It is with gratitude that I wear the title widow, not that I ever wanted it but since I had to go through this terrible life lesson, I am so glad there was a word that helped me to find my way and other widows who reached back and helped me to accept the word when I needed something solid I could hold onto. Widows ROCK! We are united in loss and hope, what a powerful and scary place to be.
I cried when I left the bank but not for the reasons I normally would! You see, it’s kind of a long story.
When D got diagnosed with cancer we decided that we would do anything no matter what to fight this disease. We decided that we would never make a decision based on money and if that meant losing our jobs, our house, going bankrupt or losing everything- it just didn’t matter, nothing was as important as his life, our life together.
There is a certain peace that settles in when you decide you’re not worried about something. We honestly never thought about money once during his treatment. We said yes to everything they suggested, he took every medication no matter how expensive. To be honest, I never even opened my mail (this is called burying your head in the sand!) I paid what I had to pay to keep the lights on, I shopped enough that we didn’t starve and that is about it.
Unfortunately, these efforts weren’t enough and he passed away on April 28, 2009. All of a sudden, I HAD to deal with certain aspects of the money issue, his funeral cost over $10,000 and his headstone was $5000. Again, nothing was too good for my honey so I didn’t cut any corners and I did everything exactly the way I wanted it done.
After that, I continued to keep my head buried in the sand. I didn’t have credit, use credit; I essentially fell off the grid completely. It is now over 3 years later and I am just starting to open my mail, address the issues I created during that time and start to think about the future. I call that progress, right?!
I have been working for months to fix any outstanding items and work on my credit report, to bring my credit back from the dead. It is very difficult to get to a good score when you do not have any credit reporting for almost 5 years and nobody wants to give you credit because you have nothing to prove that you will pay (or even open their envelopes)
I read an article about Utah First Credit Union and how they were helping people get back on their feet. I made the call and got an appointment with the Branch Manager. I went in fully expecting for them to pull up my credit, GASP! And then explain to me why they couldn’t help me.
Instead, I was treated like a regular person. He opened an account for me, issued me a Credit Card and another loan to get me back on the grid. Good old fashioned customer service and trust! I was overwhelmed. A part of me died the day D passed away and I have been slowly trying to bring that part of me back. I had never thought about the role your credit score plays in your identity, until I realized how afraid I was of how they were going to treat me. So world… I am back (well almost), I am a normal(crazy) person with credit, who opens her mail and even automatically pays most bills online!
But guess what; given the situation I would do things exactly the same way, just to know that we tried everything and that I was willing to lose everything I had for someone I love!
What you need to learn from my story…
Get Life & Health Insurance!!!!!!! Seriously! No matter how young you are, D was 42 when he passed away!
Credit matters, it affects everything you do and the lack of it makes you feel like a 2nd class citizen.
Things are just things; no amount of money is worth your life. Never put material things in front of your personal health or happiness.
Oh, and did I say get INSURANCE!
You are a teenager now and think you are so grown up and that you know everything! You can’t wait to move out and be an adult. Please slow down! Enjoy your youth it lasts for such a short time and life gets much more difficult as you grow up.
The things you take for granted; school clothes, vacations, personal needs, have been met by your parents to this point and you have no idea what it takes to earn enough money to take care of these things on your own.
You think having to go to school every day is a huge burden and you long for the day when you can just go to work, it will be so much easier (you think). Now that I have been in the workforce for 28 years I can promise you it is much more difficult than school and that doesn’t even consider trying to raise a family at the same time.
You can’t wait to have babies and a home of your own. You want to make your own rules and live the way you want to live. Sorry to tell you, babies grow up and become know-it-all teenagers and you will be the one trying to make them follow the rules. Not even a little bit fun!
Try to love yourself, you hate your body, your hair and your braces. Someday you will wish you could be as FAT as you are right now. Your hair will begin to thin and your pretty straight/white teeth will be the one thing that doesn’t age and sag!
Do not slather yourself in baby oil and spend the entire day in the sun. You think it is no big deal but it is a big deal when you are older and you get sun spots, wrinkling and have to worry about skin cancer.
Be adventurous without being careless. You think you are invincible now, but there is a price to pay for every decision. Sometimes the price is good and sometimes it is bad. Either way, you need to be aware of the consequences for everything you do.
The hardest truth…
There is no happily ever after, no knight on a white horse and no fairytale endings. Life is hard, you will have wonderful times and very difficult times. Be real with your expectations and you can live a happy life. Happy but not perfect.
Be kind, be considerate and try to make a difference in the world. One person truly can make a difference, never stop trying to be that one person.
44 year old me
After my husband passed away I was surrounded by family and friends who wanted to be there for me and wanted to help. The problem, they had never gone through the devastation of losing a spouse. In spite of their best intentions, they just didn’t “get it” and really had no idea how to help, what to say or what was normal for each stage of my grief. There is nothing lonelier than being surrounded by people and feeling completely alone!
I have never considered myself the type to go to group therapy or even consider grief groups. I found myself not eating, not sleeping and feeling like I was losing my mind. One of these nights at about 2am, I was awake and upset and going through my list of people I could call. I realized that each of them would have been willing to take the call but they would have no idea what to say or how to help. They would end up worried and tired and I wouldn’t feel any better.
I turned to the place that never sleeps, the internet. I started typing in searches; young widow, cancer widow, widow that can’t sleep, widow not taking care of herself. I started to find resources. One of the first that I found was The Soaring Spirit’s Loss Foundation. It was full of inspiration and resources. They even had a program called Widow Match which helped me to meet someone that was in a similar place as I was. We spent many, many sleepless nights helping each other. (Thanks Becky)
I also found a site called Widow’s Wear Stilettos and even surprised myself when I signed up to start the Utah Chapter of Widow’s Wear Stilettos. There have been many Widows and Widowers that have come into my life through this program. They have become my sisters and brothers. We have walked this journey together and held each other up during the dark hours. Through Facebook and a program called Camp Widow, I have met hundreds of widows & widowers.
If you find people with the same problems, passions or goals and expand your circles to include them, you will never be alone. I have seen the power of this in the Widow community, cancer community, and even in various sports programs- Hockey, rodeo & soccer mom’s for instance. I see it very clearly in the blogging community.
Find your peeps! You will never be alone and they will help you through your difficult times, to reach a goal or move forward. Even better, you will be able to help someone and there is nothing better than that!
Many people would call me brave. I am the first to try things and always dreaming up new adventures. If somebody double dog dares me to do something- I'm in! The secret they don't know about me, is that these things I am doing are not scary to me. I went paragliding without an ounce of fear. I have had many experiences that would have terrified others but only mildly got my heart beating a little faster. For me this is not bravery! This is fun, adventure, good times!
Being brave is not about being fearless, being brave is doing something in spite of the fear because you know it is the right thing to do. In my life I define Bravery as:
Doing something you know is right, even when you will meet with a lot of resistance and judgement from others.
Taking a stand for something you believe in, even when it is unpopular.
Speaking your truth to somebody who may not like what you have to say but doing it anyway because it will improve your relationship with that person or the belief you hold in yourself.
Bravery is different for everyone, for some people climbing a ladder is brave, petting a dog is brave, swimming is brave, public speaking could be nearly heroic. Anyone who is afraid of something and does it anyway, that is brave!
For some people who have been through a big trama in their life; getting out of bed is brave, walking out your door is brave, breathing in and out is brave. If you can make it one more moment, one more hour, one more day- that is brave!
To face you biggest fear head on and come out the other side, that is brave! Even if your biggest fear is a spider!
I love watching documentaries about people who have accomplished things that are bigger than life. The truth is, most of these people were not afraid, they were not being brave, they were just answering their life calling. I can't help but respect those who are afraid of even the littlest things and the conquer their fears and do it anyway. Even bigger than that, when they reach back and help somebody else to work through their fears. This is bravery!
I am known for speaking my mind and telling it like it is, sometimes too much. I have been working on my filter for many years to try to control this issue. I am transparent, if I like something or someone- you know it! If I don’t like something or someone- you will know that too, so will they! When asked a question directly to my face, it is not within my capacity to lie. I am very open with my thoughts and feelings and live my life for anyone to see. At least, that is who I usually am!
Circumstances in my life have put me in a place I am not comfortable in. I have been trying to hide myself, my feelings and my life from people. I am proud to say that this has not been a selfish gesture. I have been doing it to protect people that I love from the opinions and actions of others in regards to me. There is a whole story that explains this, but I will just leave it here for now.
I have had the most horrible things said about me and the biggest lies. For the sake of others, I have chosen to not respond and try to keep things as peaceful as possible for the people around me. Don’t feel bad for me, this was my choice.
Lately, I feel like I am living undercover. I don’t say what I think, I don’t post much on Facebook and I try to watch every word that comes out of my mouth. This girl who lives her life in the open is all of a sudden completely closed off. I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling so stifled until the last couple of days.
I met with a lady who’s husband is dying, anytime now. She is moving forward expressing her grief and preparing to do Relay for Life in his honor. At the Relay meeting I heard the stories of those fighting and those remembering someone they have lost. The next day I met a widow who lost her husband 3 weeks ago from cancer. I then visited a very sick relative in the hospital. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I really dug in and tried to figure out what was causing me so much upset.
Light bulb moment- I understand that the most important thing you can do with your life is LIVE each day and when you are not being your authentic self, you are not living! It is time for me to be the person that I am. Say who I am, how I feel and be open and transparent with my life. This is the person I was meant to be. I will do my best to be positive at all times, to give opinions with respect, but I will no longer hide my life just to make others happy. I have A Lotta Living left to do and I need to do it out Loud because that is the person that I am.
I woke up on a Friday morning and my mountain was burning! What I mean by “my” mountain, is that it is within walking distance from my home, it is the view I see when I leave for work and the one I enjoy each night when I get home. It is where I buried my sweet puppy Loki after he passed away and where my children would hang out and have camp-outs when they were in their teens.
The mountain has been on fire before but it never created much of a problem for the homes. I took a picture of the fire on my way to work. The picture is actually very beautiful. If shows the sun shining with the blaze and smoke behind it.
At work I could see the billows of smoke from the fire and ash was falling from the sky. I knew as long as the winds were going to the north-east, my home would be safe. All of a sudden, I got a call that they were evacuating the city, and people who lived in the area were quickly heading home. The news reports were jumbled and you couldn’t really tell what was going on.
As I headed toward the mountain, I could see that it was blazing on the side across from me. As I turned toward my side you could see areas of concern but not as bad as the other side. I pulled into my neighborhood and saw people on my street placing their valuables (mostly family pictures) into their cars, just in case.
Picture from Deseret News, Jeffrey D. Allred
I walked into my house and as my eyes took an inventory of my home, I tried to think about what I should save. Of course there were things that mattered and I decided I would take the obvious, pictures, reminders of Dave and a few valuables. I kept thinking that I should be getting things together or at a minimum make a list of what I needed to grab. I started berating myself that I didn’t have a plan, my important items were not all in one place and I didn’t have an external hard drive for my computer. I could have panicked at that point.
Picture from Deseret News, Jeffrey D. Allred
Instead, I calmly let my dogs into the house and I sat down and started thinking about what things really mattered. If I drove away that moment with my pets in the car with me and didn’t manage to save anything, would it really matter? The truth is, once you have lost one of the most precious things in your life (your husband) none of the rest really matters. I have said before, things are just things. I was tested and guess what? I believe that even more now. I would be sad if I lost treasured pictures or special belongings but in the end if my family, pets and friends were safe, the rest really doesn’t matter. Things really are just things, even precious pictures and valuables. It’s freeing to understand that and it takes a lot of pressure out of this materialistic world that we live in.
Now the danger is gone, I will work on a plan; an external hard drive, important papers all in one place and a list of things to grab in an emergency. I will try to learn from this lesson but in the end I fully understand that if I were to lose everything except the people and pets that are important in my life, I could begin my life again. People are the only thing that matters and things truly are just things!
My first hero was my daddy! I remember when I was growing up we were excited for him to get home from work. When he traveled for his job, we told my mom that we wished our dad worked in a grocery store so he would be home more often. Sometimes when we were in really big trouble my mom would tell us "just wait until your father gets home" she never knew that we thought he was kinda a softie and even if he got really angry for a minute, he would feel bad and let us off pretty easy. He was an amazing provider for our family and we had a perfect life growing up. My parents never and I mean NEVER fought in front of us and they showed us the beauty of the mountains and traveling. I think I learned to appreciate my dad even more when my kids were born, he was the rock they were able to count on, even through my craziness. This little girl grew up to be a big girl who still think her daddy is the bestest and the strongest!
When I first met Manuel (Dave's dad) he welcomed me into the family with open arms. Other father's out of concern for their sons probably wouldn't have been so happy to have their 20 year old son marry a girl with 2 kids. If he was concerned, which I am sure he was, he never showed it to me. He taught Dave to be a great provider, to care for his family and to be a wonderful father. I can't imagine a better example for his son. I love that I see both of you in Skyler!
Bill stepped into the picture when Manuel passed away way to early and was a support system for Karen and the family. He took on a lot, which is a huge understatement. When Dave was diagnosed Bill was one of the best advisors I could have. He took the time to really talk to me and understand me and help me through the tough times. He has supported Karen so that she can support everyone else. To my bonus father, Happy Father's Day Bill!
If you ask my sons, they would tell you that their dad was the toughest, the funniest, the biggest, the baddest, he is their hero! If you ask his little girl, he was her teddy bear and her hunny and her first love. I could not have asked for a better father for my children and I love that he has instilled some of those values into our kids. I'm sad he can't be here with us for these days, but he is always with us whatever we do and wherever we go. These days will always be hard because he is not here but many kids never have the blessing of such a wonderful dad in their life. I guess if we only got you for a little while, it was better than some people ever get.
If you are blessed to have your father, grandfather or husband with you on this holiday hug them and hold them close and let them know how grateful you are for them.
If they have already gone on to prepare a place for us in heaven, know that they are still with you and their influence will never leave you.
Engagement pictures- young and naive
When you lose someone you love, you look back on your relationshp and can't help but be overwhelmed by the woulda- shoulda- coulda thoughts. I have examined our relationship and looked into the happy and the not so happy times. I have also spoken with other widows about what they wish they would have done differently to make their marriages even stronger than they were. This is what I have come up with (mind you these are not time tested, just my thoughts):
Be Their Biggest Cheerleader
Do not put them down or make them feel like they are not good enough. You loved them enough to be with them so treat them that way! Appreciate who they are and tell them and anyone around you how much you appreciate them and how wonderful you think they are. They will love you for it and you both will spend more time trying to make each other happy.
The Little Things are The Little Things
When I would go out in public when Dave passed away, it made me crazy to hear couples bickering, arguements in the store and petty disagreements made me want to SCREAM. How would you like this last words you spoke to your husband to be about him not taking out the garbage or what to buy at the store? You wouldn't- so STOP IT! Do those things really matter anyway? When I look back at the time we wasted in disagreement or argument, I would give him his way in all things to get that time back!
Save the Drama for you Mama (and she probably doesn't want it either)
No door slamming, freaking out or talking to other people about your partner! This type of behavior typically results in a big ugly circle. You throw a fit, they get angry and don't do something you have been asking them to do, you get angrier and quit talking to them, they get madder and start going out with their friends... you get the picture! It doesn't work and it fractures your relationship!
Treat Them as your Best Friend
If you are planning to be with them for the rest of your life, I would hope you would chose somebody who would be your best friend. Always treat them with respect, do not keep secrets from them and DO NOT talk about them to others. Love them through the good and the bad and life will always be good with your best friend beside you.
Do not let things build up, if you need to talk about something, if you are frustrated, take each thing when it is small, talk it out without judgement or screaming and you will happily go about your life.
Put Out a little!
Life gets tough and there are nights where you just want to be left alone to sleep! I get it, believe me I do! Your partner needs to feel connected to you, important and precious. Dave would be the first person to tell you he wished I would have figured this out sooner! The truth is, when you lose them you long for the intimacy, to lay you head on their chest and hear their heart beating. Every widow I have talked to wishes she would have found more time and energy for this when her husband was alive.
Do Not Stay Angry or Bitter
No matter what it takes to work through a problem, take the time to get to the root of it and fix it! Never hold past grudges, if you say you forgive them mean it!
Always Part with Sweet Words and a Kiss
Please let the last words you speak to one another be words of love and hearts that are connected. You never know what life may hold for you so guard your love with everything you have. I was fortunate that the last words to Dave were how proud I was of him for fighting so hard and how much I loved him. I pray for that for everyone.
I will let you know in a few years how my strategy is working.
I went to a funeral a while back of a lovely woman who passed away much to soon. Her 20 year old daughter took the stand and stated the things she had learned from her mom. It was beautiful and made me wonder what my children would say they have learned from me.
I hope I taught them;
They can do anything with their life, they just need to put the work into it and they will be amazed at what they can accomplish.
We only get one life and we DESERVE to be happy. Create your happiness, do not wait for others to do it for you. Other’s can enhance you life but it is completely within your power to make it wonderful.
Only allow positive people into your world. If they bring you down or make you less than you can be, love them and let them go!
Stand up for yourself, the people you love and the people who can’t do it for themselves. Everyone deserves a champion.
Do good with your life, give to others and share of your money, time and knowledge.
When you find true love you will know it, fight for it- it is worth it. When you are in a relationship that is not the right one, GET OUT there are better things waiting for you.
FAMILY COMES FIRST!
Always have fun, make memories and support one another.
I have been so blessed, my children have always been my world. The best thing I have ever done in this world is to be a mom. Being a Grandma & an Aunt come in a close second!
What I learned from my Mom:
To love my family with all my heart and forgive any mistakes they make as part of the growing and learning process. (thankful she did that for me)
To serve others, her life has been one of service, she is always helping others and would do anything to ease the burden of someone who is troubled.
Bring the family together as much as possible, strengthen the ties.
Patience and Love. When my children were young and I was just exhausted I would think of her never-ending patience with me and it would encourage me to do the same for them.
I never heard my parents argue or raise their voices! This was a huge lesson for me, stand together as a couple and you will always have strength (I wasn’t always good at it but at least I knew better)
What I learned from my Mother-in-law
Unlimited loyalty, she has been the Caregiver to so many in the family and she never complains, never falters and is the rock that holds everyone together.
How to make it through the darkest times in my life, put on my armour and GO! No time to feel sorry for myself, no time to worry and cry- do what you need to do. You can take your armour off when the work is done.
Family are the people who love you most, it’s not always about being related.
Every event is a celebration and every day is a gift, live your best life everyday and create your fun whenever you can.
A mother-in-law can also be one of your best friends.
What I learned from the mother of my favorite man in the whole world, my husband Therion
Even though your life may end at a young age, you can leave behind the teachings and life lessons that will help your children grow into wonderful people.
When life get’s difficult, they reach back to their memories and what mom taught them when they were young. You are still with them and guiding them from the other side.
That connection between a child and mother is never broken.
She raised a wonderful man who has compassion and peace in his heart. Never judges others or talks behind their back. He is true to his heart and believes in others will be the same.
What a tribute to his mom, I‘m sure she is very proud!
There is something very powerful in knowing that I have already lived one of the worst days of my life. I can’t imagine a day that could be worse than the day my hubby died! It’s freeing in a way. Crazy, I know!
I have had a crappy week, really crappy! As I was driving to work this morning I was having my pity party and thinking about how crappy (did I tell you it was a really crappy week?!). I even started to think, this could be one of the worst weeks E-V-E-R! Then my mind came to a screeching halt!
Worst week? Not even close! I have had MUCH worse! Then I started to analyze the pieces of the week bit by bit. When you hold them up and compare them to your worst day ever, they really are pretty trivial. And suddenly, my week wasn’t so bad after all.
Perspective came in small doses.
Money is just money! You can’t take it with you when you go and it will not buy you happiness. Cross money problems off the list.
Things are just things, material items can be fun and make you think your happy but really when it all comes down to it, it’s just a thing. Cross material items off the list!
People’s opinions only matter if you choose to let them matter! I am who I am. I know my heart, the people who love me know my heart. Haters don’t matter, cross them off the list!
Mean and spiteful people are making their lives miserable, they might give me a bad day but they live in darkness. Cross them off the list.
HUH? The worst week E-V-E-R all of a sudden wasn’t looking so bad! Now, don’t get me wrong. I would have been very happy not to have this perspective and not know what “The Worst Day Ever” feels like, and I hope you never have to learn it this way. But if you have already had your “Worst Day Ever” or if you can imagine what it might be like, you really start to understand how little the little things matter! Fears evaporate, dread and over thinking go away. Why worry over things you can’t change? If nobody is going to die, than the situation probably isn’t that bad. If you get to wake up in the morning and try again, then you have HOPE!
Now that I have gotten The Worst Day of my Life out of the way, I better get to creating the Best Day of my Life! I have had some pretty good ones, so it’s going to be fun trying to top them!
It has been 3 years since I lost my best friend, my honey Dave. It has been a roller coaster of emotions and huge process to even begin to find myself . Each Angelversary has come with different emotions. The 1st year I was an emotional mess, lost, confused and alone. Year 2 brought panic, who am I, what am I supposed to do? Year 3 came upon me like a blanket of sadness, it is heavy and hard to breathe but I am more powerful and able to move through, analyzing my mistakes of the past and my pathway for the future.
I have learned that life goes on, it will never be the same and I am forever defined by the experiences I have been through. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Dave and miss his laugh and teasing ways but I cherish what he taught me and I try live up to the way he lived his life out loud.
Relationships are everything…and nothing at all! This year has defined who my true friends and family are. I celebrated Live Loud Day with an absolute certainty of who really loves me and will stand by me. There are people I have lost along the way, and it is OK they were either never really my friend/family or the need for them to be in my life has passed. I wish them well, I wish them love and I move forward.
You can’t unlearn what you know. I know that people get sick, I know that people die, I know that not everybody can look past their judgments and see the person I am in my heart. Now I need to make sure that “knowing” does not hold me back. It is the biggest reason for Live Loud Day and what I will define my life with. These things do happen, I can’t change it, all I can do is live in the moment and try be an example for others to do the same.
I have made mistakes over the past 3 years (well my whole life) I have been living in a fog for a part of it. However, I am accountable for everything I do on this earth and I am accountable to my God and when I see Dave again. I have also done some good things with my learning’s I hope I can be judged equally.
It is possible to love again! It takes nothing away from the love I hold in my heart for Dave. It is totally different and completely real. One of my good friends explained it in the following way; when you have your 1st child you are absolutely positively in love with that child, your heart has expanded beyond anything you thought was possible. When you get pregnant with your second child you worry that you will never be able to love that child as much. When that child is born the love comes rushing in, every bit as powerful as the first, just different. That is how it is to love again as a widow.
The blessing in this loss is the understanding that we only get one life! We deserve to be happy! We are accountable for our own happiness! The world is a beautiful place, really pay attention to where you are and be thankful for the blessings. Every day we are able to get out of bed in the morning is a new opportunity to make our lives great, to help someone else, to try to make a positive difference in the world. Be grateful for the beauty of our world, the smell of the flowers, the touch of rain on our skin. The love of our families and the company of our furry friends. Live in the moment, LIVE LOUD! There is a whole lotta living left to do!
Two years have passed since I kissed your lips and placed my hand against your cheek. From the moment you say your vows you promise to love and cherish that person, until death do us part. Love does not end with death, it carries on and becomes a part of the person you are. I will forever be living my life for both of us utilizing all the lessons you taught me. Always amazed at the profound effect you had on my life and everyone that your life touched. We LIVED LOUD today in your honor. I still miss you, every day, every second, every moment.
I will love you with every breath I take until my dying day. That day I will meet you again in that beautiful place that you told me about. Last year was spent in deep dispair and sorrow, this year was spent trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of this broken life and put them back together in a way that you would be proud of, that I can be proud of. I have had to pick up each part of my heart, examine it and decide how I would reconstruct myself. It has caused so much soul searching. I have had to learn how to be alone with myself. That is a very difficult thing to be! The house is so silent sometimes, I feel like you could hear a pin drop and that I might go crazy if somebody doesn't make some noise! When you were around, things were never quiet.
I have learned that I am a survivor. I guess, I always knew that, but I was truly tested the past 3 1/2 years and I am still standing! I have learned that I can not fill the space where you are supposed to be, I tried in the beginning. Trying to be mother and father- nana and pop pop. We all miss you and there is nothing I can do about it. The only thing I can do, is to try be the best mother, grandmother, friend, family, that I can be. Be a bigger person then I was before, to make up for what we are lacking without you here.
I have learned that true friends and family never leave, no matter how hard you push them away or retreat and that those who were not your true friend to begin with quickly fade away when times are tough, and that is OK!
Positive thinking can change your life, it shapes the person you are and those around you. Don't let negative or poison in from anywhere or anyone. It might be difficult at times but nobody is worth it.
The biggest gift you can give someone is to create a memory, a moment, or an adventure. No money or material item is more valueable. At the end of this life none of your material possessions mean anything! The memories you leave are golden.
We raised good kids! They are resiliant and powerful and they understand the gift of life and living to the fullest. Our grandchildren are our biggest legacy and nothing we do in this life will ever be as big as that!
Being a Widow is the worst club in the world to enter, but once you are there, you are embraced by a community bigger than anything I have ever know. I hated the "W" word, especially while you were fighting cancer and it was a possibility for me. I now understand that widows are the most powerful women in the world, I am proud to carry that title and proud of the ladies that share it with me. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but I am in amazing company! One person, can change the world these women give me strength and courage.
I close out year two, a little stronger and wiser than year one. Its a little bit easier but it will never be easy. I look forward to another year and to see what year three teaches me. And every year I live, brings me one year
closer to you! All my love, my brave fighter, my husband, my best friend!
Dave is my soulmate, I always new that, but I never recognized it for the gift that it was. He was my bestfriend, a wonderful father to our children and the love of my life. I think back on the times we wasted in disagreement or argument of stupid things and I wish I could have them all back to do them again with love and laughter. Treat the people you love with kindness and don't waste energy on petty disagrements- in the end none of those things will matter at all.
When you are given a difficult task, cancer, death, or anything. You can choose one of three options to get through it. You can choose to be angry, depressed and upset. You can choose to be indifferent, and just let life take you where it will OR you can choose to be positive, don't spend to much time asking "why" or feeling sorry for yourself. Move forward and embrace each moment.
All three of these options will typically end in the same resolution. The difference is the journey. One will be filled with rocks you can't climb and tears and anger at every turn. The other you will walk through and miss the beautiful terrain, the rainbows, the flowers. The third allows you to grieve openly for the easier path but stand in awe at the beauty that surrounds you. The hands of your family and friends pulling you through and the beautiful moments along the way. I have chosen this option.
I miss Dave every second, every moment, every day. I miss his touch, his laughter and my best friend. I am angry at times, sad at times and somedays I don't want to get out of bed at all. All of these things are OK as long as they don't last. The pathway still stretches out before me and there are still mountains to climb but along the way I will see beauty and experience moments that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I know Dave walks with me and he is part of all of these moments.
In passing the one year angel-versary of his leaving this earth. Each of the options held some appeal. I wanted to be angry, sad and upset that all of our dreams as a couple came to an end that day. Stay in bed and cry for everything that I lost. The option of total denial, not thinking, not feeling and letting the day pass without my participation held some allure as well. Luckily, I chose the third option, we celebrated his life! We stood strong as family and friends, we were grateful for the moments we had and the lessons Dave taught us in such a short time. We passed a memory on to our grandchildren that although death is sad and we miss the person terribly we can celebrate their life and the fact that we have each other. What a beautiful day we had. I know Dave is very proud.
So whatever tribulation you are given in your life, you have choices. I hope you choose the one that allows you to continue living! We pay tribute in that way. Dave you taught me to Live Loud and I will strive to Live a Life Uncommon, until we meet again in that beautiful Place!
David Allen Ledesma
November 26, 1966 - April 28, 2009
Keep teaching us how to live!