When you finally think you have it all figured out and things are moving along just fine, fate decides to throw you a curve ball and see if you’ll be able to catch it.

See I’ve been fortunate; I have a great husband, sweet and well behaved (well so far anyways), 12 year old daughter, great neighbors, siblings who love us and great friends. Both my husband and I have work that makes us happy. Things are good. I can’t complain. However can I tell you that 5 months ago I really appreciated any of those things as much as I do today? I’m not sure, I never really paid much attention to it, maybe I took things for granted a bit, and that’s why I never really sat down and took a good inventory of my inner gratitude for my life.

May 27th was the day that everything changed. We didn’t expect it. My mom was having surgery. We were told that there was a high risk of complications because she had a heart condition and COPD, but she was young and should recover just fine. Without getting into too many details, 2 days after her surgery my mom passed away.

If you have lost a loved one, you know exactly what I’m about to describe. The feelings of devastating sadness, anger, worry, fear and most of all guilt – did I tell my mom everything she needed to hear before she had surgery? Did I really listen to her and did she get what she needed from me? Should I have ignored the nurses in the ICU and stayed by her bed on her last night, so that when she did wake up, she wouldn’t have been alone. I remember telling her the night before her surgery that she really shouldn’t worry, “the surgeon wouldn’t do this if it was that much of a risk”. I dismissed her and her feelings completely. I beat myself up internally, about how I could have been a better daughter in her last few days of life.

I didn’t have a chance to think things through for a very long time. I had a funeral to plan. So 24 hours after my mom’s passing, I was in “get ‘er done” mode. Not only that, I had to make sure that my father was okay. At 39, I am still the ultimate Daddy’s little girl. And there’s nothing that can break my heart like seeing the strongest man you know break down. So, I just pulled up my boot straps and decided that I would be strong for both of us.

Boy do you ever find out who really loves you in your time of need. Remember that great list I mentioned earlier? This is who I’m writing this story for. From the time of my mother’s death, to her funeral and the weeks and months after, I have never been more grateful for the life, friends and co-workers that I have. Friends and family that I hadn’t seen in years came back into our lives to help ease some of the pain and stayed with my dad, so that I could focus on the preparations. My dearest friends, put their own lives on hold, so that they could help me with planning. My church group took right over and planned the lunch celebration for after the service. My IHHP family took turns in groups visiting the funeral home, so that I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed yet still know that I had their support. And finally all the people who came to the service combined with the overwhelming support that I didn’t need to rush back to work right away. I didn’t even mention just how wonderful my own family was, and my wonderful husband, but they’re kind of a given right? And I don’t want to get too sappy.

The last 5 months have been a journey for us. I am spending a lot more one on one time my dad, we go for coffee a lot now and we have the best conversations. I have reunited with family that I hadn’t seen in years and our little family is slowly healing. We miss my mom. She was a force of nature. I miss her laugh and her smile. But somehow through her passing, my mom has managed to teach me something yet again. I am grateful for everything I have. I don’t sweat the small stuff as much I used to, and I choose to wake up every morning and welcome whatever challenges gets thrown my way.

I am lucky. I have a good life, and now I’m appreciating it a lot more than I did before.