Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. -Found on a headstone in Ireland

Tuesday marks one year since Joe’s dad has died.  It seems unreal to think that we have lived a year of our lives without John.  I can honestly say that there hasn’t been a day in this past year that I haven’t thought of him.  Most of the thoughts make me smile first, which if you knew him fits perfectly.  Often after the smile disappears though, there is a deep sadness because he is gone.  It doesn’t stay for long, but it is there.  Right now, that sadness is staying a little longer.

I have typed at least 10 different sentences where this sentence sits and have deleted every one of them.  There have been so many little moments that were unexpected this year and trying to sum them up feels nearly impossible.  But here is what I can put into words.  I have learned a lot of things this year.  And while I would have preferred to do some of this learning later in my life, I guess I need to try and be grateful that I have some of these lessons to take with me. (Some days I am less grateful than others and I really working on being grateful right now.)

So…what I have learned this year is that….

  • Everyone deserves a little grace and the benefit of the doubt.  That guy that cut you off in traffic, sure he could be a giant jerk, but he could also be racing somewhere to say goodbye to someone.  The cranky grocery clerk, sure she could just be a cranky old bat, or she could have been up all night taking care of a really sick kid.  My point is, you just don’t know….so why chance it? It doesn’t really cost you anything to allow for some grace in your everyday life and at some point you are going to need some yourself.  I am lucky to have the friends and family (and complete strangers at times) that have allowed me some of that grace myself.
  • People recall memories not stuff, so make memories.  There hasn’t been a conversation in the last year that has revolved around the present John got Joe for his 10th birthday.  But there have been a lot of conversations around things like the way John sang to songs (usually with his own lyrics) or the camping trips that just Joe and his dad went on. Or about the time John and Joe jumped up and down on the rope bridge in Libby which probably cemented my fear of heights or what wicked awesome fried chicken he could make.  You get my point….   So, when asked by Taelin to come dance with her I put down whatever I am doing and (without sounding like a Lee Ann Womack song) I choose to dance.  The list that started this blog is very much about making memories and living my life.
  • It shouldn’t be a secret that you love someone.  I don’t come from a family that said “I love you” on a regular basis.  I am not saying that I wasn’t loved because I was, but it wasn’t outwardly stated. So, it took some getting used to when Joe’s family started to tell me they loved me even before we were engaged.  But I am so glad that they did.  I don’t doubt for a second that John did love me and I know he knew that I loved him.  I don’t take for granted what an incredible gift that is.

While I would have liked to have many, many more years with John in our lives that’s not the reality of our situation.  I have done a lot of  “cancer sucks” and “life just isn’t fair” in this past year (and I am sure I will again).  Cancer does suck and life isn’t fair…those things are true, don’t get me wrong.  But Tuesday night, while I am sure there will be tears at some point, Joe and I will be watching Blazing Saddles (one of John favorite movies and quite possibly the most inappropriate movie ever) and eating fried chicken (although I doubt it will be as good as John’s).

I love you and miss you very much John.


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