The Hardest Year

As the hardest year comes to a close, I think it’s important to shine light on all that illuminated the darkness this year- these are the things I hope to carry with me into 2024. Here’s a little bit about all of these smiles you see below-


I was held up by so many people this year, but my husband and son were in the trenches with me every single day. They held me up in every sense. Not only am I still standing, in every sense, because of them, but I am thriving in many ways. I completed the school year in May, when all I wanted to do was crumble into a ball and I got straight A’s as I embarked on my full time grad program this fall- because of them. My sister and I have formed a bond this year that grew out of pain, but has been a special brand of strength that we both needed and will continue to for the rest of our lives. My mother and father in-law became my full time parents this year- they’ve always filled a special role in my life, and this year that shifted a bit and the love I feel has been ever more expanded.


These faces below showed up for me this year, in every sense of the word. Attending my mom’s memorial service, daily check-ins and overall dedication to holding my heart that I cannot express enough gratitude for, except to say, I love you all. Those first months when I had to put myself in front of children everyday and pretend I was fine, my best friend talked to me as I cried through my lunch periods and she is the reason I did not quit mid year. Anyone who sent me messages, songs, gifs, jokes- I am also here standing because of you. I couldn’t be more enamored and heartened by these people.


One of the few activities that could bring relief to my heart this past year was singing, and I was so fortunate to find a singing community in the Hudson Community Chorus when I first moved to Ohio. This community not only gave me a safe outlet to continue singing after my mom passed, but the leaders and people there have been another source of strength. They encouraged me to take my time returning to singing and gave me opportunities to let my own light shine in many ways- something my mom would have wanted and been so proud of me for. A bonus is a little side singing project that came from a wonderful friendship- something I cherish and will continue to build into the new year.


When my heart couldn’t communicate to even my nearest and dearest this year, nature was always there. Whether it be one of my cat children sitting close to me, or begging me for breakfast insisting that I get out of bed, or one of the many horses, in tune to my heart and comforting me with their gentle spirit, they all kept a light shining on me. The sky, the squirrels, the birds, the sun rays, the rocks, the dirt, the roly polys- every single swirling, beautiful particle of nature resonated more deeply than anything or anyone could for me this year, and I will continue to be grateful for the healing power of all of nature.


My mom absolutely loved to drive- from before I was born until right up to her last days. Before kids, she drove for North American with my dad, literally all over the country and loved it. She would pack up Molly and I as kids and go drive to wherever- New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio- to visit family and just be on the road. When she was in pain in her older age, she’d get in the car, put on music and drive to San Antonio, or wherever, just to feel better. In honor of this spirit, I drove over 3,000 miles this year and traveled half the country with my best friend, my sister and nephew and my son. I visited my favorite places- Disney, Destin, Austin- and my favorite people. This movement of my physical body to these places on Earth brought a special type of peace to my heart while honoring the thing my mom loved to do the most.

I am beyond blessed, grateful, heartened and overwhelmed by the light that shined on me this year, the hardest year. I don’t know what next year holds, but I know I am stronger going out of it than I came in- and I owe it to the people and places who were there for me this year.