The before and the after

by ocean on honeymoon
This photo was taken hours before my mom died. The last photo of me during “the before” part of my life.
by ocean on honeymoon
It was me, blissed-out, on my honeymoon, basking in all the glowing love and possibilities of life. This was another part of life, before another layer was added to who I am. I often think of my life in parts. There was the very obvious before having my first child and after. Marriage, graduation. But one of the biggest ones that I know most of you share is before and after a loss.
I look at this photo and I’m reminded of standing in our old kitchen at our last house. Bruce’s dad had unexpectedly stopped over, he told me he had cancer and didn’t have long to live. It was just me and him standing there, I gave him the biggest hug and told him how sorry I am for all he’s going through, we cried.
THEN…a few minutes later my husband Bruce who had been in the shower walked into the kitchen, he no idea all that had just happened. I looked at him, studied him. Tried to remember this moment forever… he looked like me in this photo… no idea how his life was going to change. My heart broke for how his life was about to change forever.
Today is the beginning of the 13th year without my mom here on earth. 13 years since I last saw this girl. I’ve grown so much since this photo, learned so much, in many ways grown even closer to my mom and all she taught me, grown closer to my family.
Yet, what I wouldn’t give for one hug… one coffee lunch together… one day of my kids getting time with her… Knowing I can’t change things, I’ve had to accept and find gratitude for all the days I did have my mom here. I truly wake up every day with gratitude for each day. The woman I am now, I know that life is short. Love matters most. Kindness matters, going for our dreams matters. Grief is okay, it’s human, it’s love being honored. The thought of getting to the end of my days with all sorts of hopes and dreams unfulfilled inside of me is the thing that scares me most in life. So I’m often overly “deep” with my feelings, I hug a lot, I say I love you more now. I dream big and find ways to make those happen. It’s not a wish list… it’s a must for me now.
I share this for any of you navigating this “before and after” in your life. Whether from a death, a divorce, a major life change, diagnosis, a move…. I send you so much love and encouragement that things can be great again. Feel the tears and sit in a carved out space of feeling the loss… trust that the brightness will come, creative solutions to what you need to do next will surface, you can indeed have your best days still ahead of you. Just keep keeping on. You are not alone.
PS – You’re the first to hear the news! In the coming months, I will be launching a membership community where those of us who have experienced loss but are looking to put life back together and rediscover our dreams and goals and make them happen can do so with support, encouragement, creativity, and accountability. It’s going to be amazing!!  If you haven’t done so already… you can sign up to be notified when more information is available here.