Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Very Good Update On My Life

It's been a year and 8 months since I lost my dad to a sudden heart attack. My dad was everything to me. He was the one who always supported me and was always there. My friends loved when he was around because he constantly made them laugh. I on the other hand was embarrassed because of the things he would do and say. It's pretty interesting how the minute someone is gone the things you miss the most are the ones that used to annoy you. At this point you no longer consider anything they did to be annoying and the situations that made you mad fade away. The specific times and events that I choose to remember are no longer the moments my dad upset me. To be honest there are only a few memories that truly stand out. 

When you lose someone close to you the world is a much different place. The trials that once seemed impossible to make it through suddenly seem possible. It's amazing but you begin to see the real meaning of life. You start to understand the importance of living each day for what it's worth rather than worrying about what tomorrow will be. You find yourself slowing down enough to really take in what is going on around you. And most importantly you start to realize who and what truly matter. The I love you's become more common and not just to say it but actually putting true meaning behind it. It's an understanding that being able to say those words to that person may never happen again. 

Grief is a word thrown around so frequently. However, it's a word that has a variety of meanings. The way I view grief will be much different then the way someone else views it. My grief is even going to be different then people in my family. It's a hard concept at the time because you feel too much pain to think any one person may be hurting more. It's difficult to see through your own suffering to be there for someone else at their time of need. Unfortunately grief tears people, families and lives apart. It's easy to get stuck in a poor me attitude and never find your way out of it. The reason it's so easy is because you have every right in the world to feel that way. Losing someone you love isn't fair and it's not right but it also happens. Each day a large number of people lose a loved one. The real question is what are you going to do about it? Are you going to never wake up from what has happened in your life and stay miserable forever? Or are you going to wake up each morning and realize that there are things so much greater?

After my dad passed away I was that person that felt lost and unable to see any light. I struggled with the question of being able to go on. Each night I wondered why I was here and couldn't understand why the one person I needed so badly in my life wasn't there for me. I started to think I would never be the same person I once was, the person who loved life and cared so deeply for others. I contemplated my future and at times my existence. I believed in my heart that my life couldn't and wouldn't ever be the same. For the first time in my life I felt hopeless and the fight in me seemed to be diminishing daily. 

I am not exactly sure when things began to change for me but over time it happened. I renewed the hope I once had and understood it would take a lot for me to make it through the death of my father. I accepted the challenge of beginning to rebuild my life and learn to live without my dad. I quickly found myself striving to be the best person I could be each day I was given. Work became much more then a job, my passion grew and I had a drive to work as hard as I could. I found myself understanding why my dad connected so well with patients and I began connecting more with the people around me. I believed in myself and knew I had something to offer. 

At that time I knew I wanted to give back to the association that gave so much. I decided to create a Heart Walk team that would raise money for AHA. A few weeks later I would join forces with Kristen and began Give'N'GetFit aimed at raising money for cancer, heart disease and stroke. Once again I found something that kept my mind off my life and forced me to work as hard as possible. It allowed me to put my passion for serving into something so much greater. I had no time to sit and cry over what I had lost. Of course some days were still difficult but the difficult days were becoming much less often. 

Give'N'GetFit has been a blessing for me. When we began our fundraising journey we never knew it would be where it is now. It has allowed me to cope with my losses and forced me to always find good in what I do each day. I believe in my heart that surrounding myself around so much positivity has helped me cope with my most recent loss, which was the death of my grandma. I am now able to see a new side to death and don't just see the negativity. Death is never going to be easy no matter who it is but behind all the darkness there is a small glimmer of light. If we use that light and allow it to shine we become capable of anything. 

This weekend as I was walking at Relay For Life, it was 2am and all I could think about was the amazing people that surrounded me. I had the chance to listen and learn about people who have had to fight some of the hardest battles anyone has had to face. I have met incredible individuals of all ages that have affected my life in more ways than one. The friendships I have built and the memories shared are everlasting. I finally feel like I know who I am. I have reached a point in this grief journey where I no longer feel lost and no longer question my purpose. My purpose is to continue fighting. Although some are no longer here, I must do what I can while I am still blessed to be on this earth. The fight they attempted to never give up on is now meant to be fought by me in their memory. 

It's amazing to see the support that's all around. People keep asking if I am glad the big events are over and my answer to that is I can't really say. Yes, of course a little break to catch up on sleep is nice but is it weird to say that I am already missing the fact that most of our fundraising for this year is finished. I find myself already thinking about how to make things better for next year. Now that I have seen the growth in just one year, it makes me smile to think of how we can continue to reach new heights. I found myself driving home from work tonight with a constant smile because of the incredible lives being touched through Give'N'GetFit. The most amazing part is the lives that have yet to be affected by one of the diseases but now have a drive to join us in the fight. 

I am excited for what's ahead. I am actually very proud of where I came from and where I am. That's not usually something I would find myself saying but I know that at some point I must give myself credit for what I have achieved since losing my father. I am thankful that my dad and grandma have been by my side helping me to never give up. I look forward to what the next few years will bring. I also look forward to changes in my life that allow me to continue growing. I will welcome those changes because ultimately my main goal is to help as many people as possible. Grief can't decide who you are but if you let it take over it becomes much more difficult to figure out who you once were. Each morning choose life. Choose to find the positives and allow yourself to view the world in its beauty. Slow down and realize there are so many amazing things all around you. Do your best to gain strength with each trial  because without suffering there would be no compassion. Last but not least never give up and don't ever stop smiling!

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