After months of planning, our August trip to Europe, a first for our family, was coming together. Until it unraveled on the day I was supposed to depart. Completely.
No trip. An injured son. A critically ill dog. And my father-in-law Paul passed away. Not the summer we had anticipated. Yet this was what we got.
At about this time, you might be feeling bad for my family. Don’t. This was how things were meant to be. This summer tested my ability to change and accept things that I can’t do anything about. I learned more than I could have imagined and I thank Paul for his part in this. Here are my summer takeaways:
- Be grateful – every minute of every hour of every day. You are on this earth for a limited time. You’ve got one shot. Make the most of it. If you don’t like your job, quit. If you are unhappy in a relationship, leave. If you live in the country but always felt more like a city gal, move. If you love your family, hold them tight and spend more quality time together. Be outdoors. Take long walks. Eat healthy food. Love big.
- Trust – that your difficulties help lead you to clarity. I dealt with heartache, pain and monumental stuff this summer – all at once. But, this forced my family to come together. Not only that, it caused me to pause, re-evaluate my priorities and make some tough decisions. I may have ultimately made these same decisions, but not this quickly.
- Have faith – that things happen for a reason, usually. Sometimes this won’t be apparent immediately and other times you’ll know the reason right off the bat.
- Many examples of this occurred this summer. Here are a couple: I was supposed to be in Europe August 6-23. Joel arrived in London one day earlier, on August 5. We got the call that Paul was going on life support in California on August 6. As stressful and expensive as it was, Joel was able to immediately book tickets from London to LA, and I never got on a plane to Europe. I booked a flight to LA instead. We arrived hours before Paul passed away, and Joel got to say goodbye to his dad. Joel had a feeling that his father, who had been ill for more than a year, would pass away during our trip or right before. He was right (listen to your gut: another blog post, another time.) But, here’s the kicker: This was the first time since I’ve known my husband that he blocked out two and a half solid weeks for a vacation. He parceled out his work, had no projects pending. Didn’t even take a computer with him. Now he had two weeks with his slate clear to say goodbye to his father, spend time with his mother and deal with his grief.
- The day after Paul died, I had a bit of a meltdown under all the stress. I decided to book a flight home two days after the funeral even though Joel wanted to stay in California longer. I just felt a strong feeling that I needed to get home. Ethan picked me up at the airport. The dog was in the car and she wasn’t acting like herself. She hadn’t eaten all day and was lethargic. I took one look at her and knew something was wrong. The next morning, I took her to the vet and found out she had severe anemia. The vet told me he’d call the next morning with her test results. Three hours after I got home, the dog looked worse. I made a gut decision to take her to the animal hospital. She was diagnosed with immune mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA), a critical and rapid-onset autoimmune disease of the red blood cells and marrow. She was hanging on for her life. Nine days and two blood transfusions later, Phoebe came home. We’re giving her six meds, including three powerful immune suppressants. She is weak and has a long road to recovery ahead of her, but she is improving and getting stronger daily. If I didn’t come home that day, my dog would have died. I am sure of it. And, if we had gone to Europe and the dog was in boarding, she would have died. I am sure of this too. I believe that Paul passed away at a time when Joel could be fully present and when we could be home in time to save Phoebe’s life.
4. Believe – that it’s ok if you don’t understand why things happen all the time. Choose to see the good and know that your situation is meant to point you in a direction that you never would have taken otherwise. Here’s an example:
- Noah was looking forward to focusing on his dance training this summer at Boston Ballet. But he broke his ankle in July and instead had to sit out for the better part of the training. He was going to need surgery to remove the broken bone and we scheduled this for the end of August. With his type of break, he could walk – just not dance. So, this way (or so we thought), he could go on the trip to Europe and have surgery after that. Instead, he ended up not dancing, not going to Europe and waiting all summer for surgery. He also grew – a lot. I am convinced he needed a break, his body needed a break. Not only this, he is more determined and focused now than ever before. He will return to Boston Ballet in a few weeks and I have a feeling he will dance with renewed energy, focus and commitment. I also know that this injury will open new doors for him. I’ll just have to wait for those doors to appear so he can open them.
5. Change – is the only constant. Know that there are some things you can control and others you can’t. Know the difference. I learned this big time this summer.
Oh, tomorrow is September 1. If you live in New England, it’s the unofficial start of fall. Hallelujah.