A Year

This time, last year, I was filled with overwhelming despair.  I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I was in darkness, and every time I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did.  I didn’t care about jingle bells or Santa coming.  I didn’t care about Christmas shopping.  Heck, I didn’t have any money to buy anything anyway.  I borrowed money to manage gifts for my children, and when it was over,  I have never taken down the tree so quickly.

I can’t believe that was only a year ago.  As I sit here with my heart bursting with joy, gratitude, and faith that things are going to continue to get better, I can’t help but wish this feeling on every single person in my life.  Things do turn around, they DO get better, they DO get easier.  What is good about hitting rock bottom?  The journey back up!

Losing our jobs last year was tough on my husband and me on many levels.  What we have learned in the process is so much more valuable than the dollars we were putting in our pockets.  We continue to search for lucrative opportunities, and have completely changed our attitudes on “wants” and “needs” in the process.   Through all of this, some new, exciting options seem to be presenting themselves organically.  Last year, we may not have been able to see them.

I lost a pregnancy this time last year.  I gained insight that I did not possess before.  If I didn’t know how diverse my community was, it was made clear to me after this experience.  For me, a piece of my soul left my being with that loss.  It can’t be recovered, and it is a pain that subsided, but will never leave me completely.  I’ve learned these things don’t affect everyone the same way, and that this happens so often to women, that as a society, we downplay the importance of acknowledging how truly hard it is.  I made a commitment to open myself up to anyone who has suffered this loss…whether at 4 weeks or 40 weeks, I will validate their feelings, be an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on.  This may sound strange, but for this empathy, I am grateful.

Marisa’s Cancer was the icing on the crud-cake that ended last year with a bang.  Wait…what?  An 8cm breast tumor, stage 4 Cancer on my 37-year-old friend?  Are you kidding me?  She is my person. I need her.  I love her.  This can’t be true.  But it was.   As I stood by and supported her through 6 rounds of chemotherapy, losing her hair, mastectomy day, post surgery infection, family coming in and out, her boyfriend rightfully losing his noodle on occasion, and finally radiation, she rarely complained.  She made me laugh more than I made her laugh.  It has been the “funnest Cancer ever.”  We learned and grew together to become more grateful.  We gained life-changing knowledge.   Today, I look at her, and although down a boob at the moment, she looks healthier and happier and more vibrant than ever before.  In just one year, her life changed, and it somehow made me a better person.

My husband being in Iraq was the tough part of this upswing year.  It was a sacrifice we made in order to make things work financially.  It has been so difficult, and we miss him so much sometimes we struggle to function.   I call it “the funk.”  If the kids or I are having a bad day, we usually figure out that it is due to “the funk.”  Thanks to the generosity of dear friends and family, we were reunited yesterday.  The all-consuming joy we all felt once together again was simply electric. For the next 15 days, this joy will permeate our lives.  Our time apart has taught us a  lot, and we know exactly what is important now, and always.

I wish I could bottle this joy and give to each one of you for Christmas.  Especially to those that I love that are struggling, I can only say, maybe give it a year?  You might be completely surprised by what may come of it. I sure was.



  1. Nicole said,

    December 4, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Cheers to your joy . . . hip hip hooray . . .Cheers to those of us who hit our very own rock bottoms . . . one year later we are downsized and let go of our home as well and living with what we need and revamping our wants. I too celebrate the joy of having the most loving home I ever lived in and for the first time in about 8 years I don’t own it! I have a brand new marriage to the same man I began loving at the age 25 and I am 40! I am down a couple of dress sizes too and have a bit more to go, though I know there is light and love at the end of that tunnel and in my loss of pounds I am gaining a whole new level of caring for myself. I can go back to our 20-year-reunion Heather as I was healing anxiety and depression, a broken marriage, and responding to the effects on my son. We sat together having each other’s back as we did since we were 12-years-old in junior high school, a deep loving, heart-fulfilling friendship based on honesty, support and respect for our differences. The beauty of aging is that I am honored to grow and love you with even more heart capacity . . . this has been going on now for nearly 30 years!!! Women loving women in friendship is special as you are to me. I too had family and friends facing cancers, heart problems, stroke, and even death. I recall my two miscarriages at 6 weeks and the silent grieving I did. The things well meaning people say with our limited language just doesn’t cover what I felt. You, Heather have taught me grace, truth, love, friendship, joy, how to be a calm mom and how to find the joy in everything. I appreciate you and your family so much. I wish your writing and photos came with boxes of Kleenex because my tears of joy just pour from my eyes every time. You also share humor with me and that is a treasured gift these days.



    we have much to be proud of and much to celebrate

  2. Weslee said,

    December 4, 2010 at 8:57 am

    This was so encouraging to read. It makes me think that despite the difficult times I too can look for that illuminating light in the future. I am so happy that you are all reunited and get the opportunity to spend two glorious weeks together as a family. Family is important and the times together are a gift. Enjoy your gift and give each and everyone a hug from us in Traverse City. We love you all and are excited that Karl is home safe and has this time with his family!
    Hugs! 🙂

  3. Caryl said,

    December 4, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Yay! and Amen!!!!

  4. Heather said,

    December 4, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Oh, Heather, that photo makes me want to cry!

  5. Gilberta said,

    December 4, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    It makes my heart sing to see all of you so happy.

    Hugs Mom and Grandma

  6. Zaneta said,

    December 14, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Wonderful post, Cousin. I love you! Thank you for sharing your spirit and strength with us 🙂 xo

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