Posted in Inspiration, Life

Fearing the big 4-0!

It doesn’t seem possible – my 40th birthday is just around the corner! For years I had stressed about approaching this next decade, nervous that my mid 40’s would quickly draw near – an age that no one in the family who has had a heart condition similar to mine has lived past. It’s funny how a simple number can create so much stress and anxiety. To put it simply, I was completely freaked me out!! I felt like I was waiting for my expiration date to approach. But I didn’t want to be like that. Even though the fear of death in my 40’s still laid inside my head, I spent much of my 30’s bound determined to find ways to work through my condition so that I wouldn’t end up with the same fate. What can I say, I have been and always will be stubborn and will push myself to the limits rather than give up and throw the towel in. Regardless of what was going on in my head, I had to go above and beyond just to prove to myself and others that even though I was “sick”, I could still do everything a normal, healthy individual could do. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of times of frustration, but I have always tried to remain optimistic. Wouldn’t you know, that stubborn attitude paid off! My health has improved slightly and the thought of an expiration date in my mid 40’s has subsided. The big 4-0…an age that I had been scared of has now become one that I am actually looking forward to. Through various types of therapy and the love and support of family and friends, I have cast my fears aside and I am ready to live life to the fullest; ready to live on through my 40’s, my 50’s and many years beyond. Age truly is a number. It’s time to forget those numbers and simply live. New opportunities await each one of us and new adventures are ready to be had. To my fellow friends and family also hitting a milestone this year – forgot those numbers. Set some new goals and dream some new dreams. One decade of your life may be ending, but a new one has just begun. Embrace it and enjoy it.

Happy Milestone Birthday to all those having one!!

It is not death that man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.

Marcus Aurelius
Posted in Family, Life

Everything happens for a reason

10645158_750337425003352_862100971715368878_nIt goes without saying, when a young life has ended, a midst of the grieving, there is often a question of why that young life was cut short.  Whether it’s a child or even a young adult, it leaves us puzzled and wondering why these “bad things (death)” happen to such young/good people; as if death was a punishment that they didn’t deserve.

This year, towards the end of our family vacation, I received a rather unexpected message from my cousins girlfriend, Becca – news that certainly caught me off guard and shook me to the core.  My cousin Jason, who was just a year younger than I and suffering from the same heart condition as myself, had passed away in her arms just a few hours before.  I couldn’t believe it – I still can’t believe it.  His defibrillator, which was working correctly and trying desperately to restart his heart was unable to do so.  No doubt, this began a series of “What if’s?” which started to roll through my mind.  What if my defibrillator didn’t work properly?  What if my heart goes into a funny rhythm that the defibrillator can’t get me out of?  What if it didn’t work at all?  What if I fell asleep and never woke up?  Question upon question continued to roll through my mind.  These were soon replaced with, Why did Jason have to die so young?, How come I’m still alive and Jason isn’t?

Jason was an honest, generous, and very caring man who had very much the same positive attitude and IMG_5313outlook on life as I did.  When we were toddlers, we even looked so much alike, we probably could have passed as twins.  We were a couple of curly, blond-haired, blue-eyed cuties!  As adults, we shared nearly the same exact heart condition, going to doctors to have many of the same tests performed, taking the same medications, and even having the same type of implants put in to save our lives.  With the invention of social networking, we were able to keep in contact with one another even better, often discussing how our appointments went with our cardiologists and how our hearts were doing, perhaps hoping that we could make each others condition better in some sort of way.

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Jason and Becca

During the funeral, my heart sank for Becca.  I could not even imagine what it would be like to lose the one you love, holding them tight as their life quickly slipped away.  No doubt that Becca was likely asking the same question, Why did Jason have to die?  Jason and Becca had not yet married but they shared their lives with one another and with God as well as with Beccas three children for over 7 years. So for all intent and purposes, the only thing that made them different from any married couple was essentially a piece of paper.  Jason was an incredible father figure, raising Becca’s kids as if they were his very own.  He had a big heart and the kids loved him.

With Jason’s passing, I was reminded how precious life is how we never truly know when “our time” is going to be, so we must cherish those special moment’s with those that we love, no matter how brief those moments may be.  A quick visit, a card, even a quick phone call just to say hello – its important to make time for those brief moments rather than allowing them to pass because we have convinced ourselves that we don’t have time to do them.

I think everything happens for a reason and there is a reason that Jason had to pass so young.  Perhaps God had a bigger plan for Jason up in heaven while he still has other plans for those of us still here on earth.  Some of us are destined to have health aliments, some of us are meant to be advocates and fight for cures and represent others facing the same fate.  Some of us are meant to motivate and encourage others to live a happier, healthier life.  Some of us are meant to fight the big fights to teach others what being strong truly means.  Some of us were meant to pass young to help others understand the meaning of love after a loss or to bring a troubled family closer together.  Regardless of the reasons, one thing is for sure…life is a gift so we should live life to the fullest, overcome the obstacles we may face, and never take the life we are given for granted because you never know when our time here on earth will be over.

10562943_10154540075350612_2894253566950992917_nMay you rest in peace, Jason!

Posted in Inspiration

Thoughts found on paper

While cleaning out the basement in preparation for a yard sale, I was emptying out some totes that I had packed full of random things and came across something I wrote on a loose piece of paper; something I had written late 2008, the year I was sick….so I figured I would share…

When I look at my life, sometimes I don’t know what to think.  I know I’m not normal….but that’s okay, no one really is.  Besides, what does it mean to have a “normal life” anyways?  No one has a perfect life.  Perfect would be dull and predictable…who wants to live like that?  I don’t.  Sure, I’ve made some bad choices throughout the years, but I have also made some good choices too.  Who hasn’t had their fair share of both good and bad choices?  It’s what life is all about; being proud of the good and learning from the bad.  I figured, if I didn’t make the choices that I did “back when”, then where would I be today?  Would my life be better or worse off had those decisions I made been different?  Sometimes I listen to other people sit and complain how their lives are going nowhere and how unhappy they are with where they are in their life – – –  here’s an idea – Change!!  We all have the ability to make changes in our lives; it just takes a mind set and the will power to do it.

Do I get depressed or bummed?  Sure, who doesn’t from time to time.  Life gets a little rough and overwhelming and it gets to you.  I will admit, sometimes I’ll just curl up and ball my eyes out because things have built up and I need a way to let them out.  But letting out a good cry, I feel much better afterwards.  The thing is, even though I’ve gone through so much; having Zachary and getting married at a young age, only for it to end in divorce only to make another unwise choice of hopping right into another relationship so quickly, only to have that one end in divorce as well.  Dealing with mom’s illness, loosing her, then loosing gram, now having to deal with my own heart issues…I can’t let all of those overwhelming moments get me to the point where I become so depressed and no longer want to go on.  When things get rough, I remind myself, somewhere else, somebody has it much worse off then I do.  I’m still trying to learn not to allow too many things build up and get my stress level to the point where it ends up as an anxiety attack, but I’m getting there, slowly but surely, learning how to better deal with different situations as they present themselves.  Life is far too short, I learned that when mom died.  You don’t know what day will be your last.  Not everyday will go as planned, not everyday will be happy, but everyday is another day to go on living. 

I am a little nervous about being sick, only because of what we went through and saw with mom.  Heading to the hospital, the same hospital and doctors that she seen, it feels like de ja vu.  Only instead of mom in the patient chair, it’s me.  My biggest worry, as a mother, is what would happen to Zach if anything were to happen to me.  Who will take care of him?  What will his life be like if I weren’t around to help guide him?  Have I influenced him enough to make the right choices in life?  I know I shouldn’t worry too much since I know there are plenty of people who would ensure he is taken care of, but as a mother, you still tend to worry what would happen if you aren’t in your child’s life.

Without a doubt, God has a plan for me and there is a reason why I am where I am today.

Posted in Life

Forget the Past, Forgive in the Present, Move on with the Future

It takes a strong person to say sorry, and an ever stronger person to forgive.                   

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It doesn’t seem possible that it has been eight years, today, since mom passed away.  A separate room in the wing at the hospital had been put aside for our family to gather, while each of us took turns going in to visit mom’s bedside, waiting helplessly as she slowly passed.  How long would her body hold on without machines aiding her life? No one had the answer.  All we could do was stand by…and wait.

But this post isn’t about waiting for my mother to die…

Growing up with mom wasn’t always easy.  Yelling and screaming was a common thing with my mother, and I will be the first to admit I harbored bad feelings towards my own mother for the longest time.  Most of my younger years, just like my brother, were spent away from home, being a part of someone else’s family.

But this post isn’t about picking apart the bad things that happened in the past…

After mom’s transplant, when things were turning around and it seemed at though mom was on the mend, during one of our visits, Mom “kicked” the boys out of the room so that her and I had a chance to spend some time alone.  While the boys were off on their trip to the local mall, mom and I sat and talked.  We talked about many different things that day, but the thing that hit me hard was when mom apologized for things that happened in the past and asked for my forgiveness…..and I forgave.

This post is about forgetting about the past, forgiving others in the present, so that you can move on with the future!

One thing I have learned over the years is that life is far to short to dwell on things that happened in the past.  Why live your life, wishing that things were different when in fact there is nothing you can do to change those things that have already happened.  Instead, forget those moments in the past that you wish you could change.  Accept others for who they are, as some individuals simply just won’t change.  And learn to forgive…especially those who are supposed to be close to you.  Don’t wait until it is too late to mend a broken relationship.  Once you’re able to forget the past, and you have forgiven those who may have done you wrong in the present, you will truly be able to move on with your future.