Lasting Lessons from Loss

Thanks, Facebook – I really didn’t need to be reminded of what happened 7 years ago DSC_0453today. But there you were this morning, just waiting for me to log on to see the post I wrote at 5:14am on this day in 2010.

I’m not mad or angry or anything. I just think that if you have the ability to manipulate my newsfeed and ads based on my Google searches, you should be able to write some kind of “don’t need to be reminded of your loved one’s death” code or logarithm or whatever it is you call it.

This morning’s “On this Day” did prompt me however, to log back into my Carepages account to see the full post. I had to reset my password first since it had been years since I signed in. The last entry I wrote there was from this day in 2011 – the one-year anniversary. That was a particularly hard one for me since it seemed like the entire world remembered. My phone buzzed all day with messages of care and concern. I remember feeling like I just wanted to shut it all down and fast forward to February 1st. I didn’t want everyone to remember the day he died. I wanted everyone to remember the days he lived. I suppose that’s what inspired me to make that final post a positive one.

I’m sharing it with you today, because it continues to ring true 7 years later. I still remember every detail as though it were yesterday, and I will always be grateful for those memories because they have helped me live a better, more appreciative life.

January 31, 2011
Today marks one year since Jeff passed away. It is so hard to wrap my mind around the fact that an entire year has passed. Surreal doesn’t even come close to describing it. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I remember it with such incredible detail. Detail you would think would be lost in the overwhelming emotion of it all yet is so crystal clear to me. I remember all of the moments leading up to his passing, I remember the moment he took his last breath, I remember leaving that hospice room with a bag of his clothes that he would never wear again. I remember the elevator ride down to the street, walking to the parking garage, driving home in absolute silence. I remember sitting down at my dining room table at 5:14am to write the update I never wanted to write. As painful as these memories may seem, they are memories that I am grateful for. They are memories that keep me grounded, memories that every single day, give me a deeper appreciation for life and all we have been given and all we have to live for while we can. I also remember asking you to pray for us and to pray for strength and I remember all of the love and support we received in return.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your overwhelming generosity and support this past year. It is because of you that we have been able to keep moving forward. It is because of you that we are able to smile, laugh, enjoy and cherish all we have left. It is because of you that we are strong enough to remember all the good times with smiles on our faces. And it is because of you that we are able to keep Jeff’s memory alive by continuing to raise money and awareness for Cancer research.
A lot has happened in all of our lives over the past year and I truly hope that the good has outweighed the bad. I think it is safe to say that we have all been changed in some way because of Jeff. He was, and will always be, an amazing example of someone who fought through some unimaginable challenges and rose to each occasion. He was the guy who never wanted you to know he was sick – even up until the very end. The guy who quietly fought this disease for 14 ½ years. I believe we are all better people because of him. I know that I hear many of you refer to him now when you are faced with challenges in your lives. He has left a permanent mark on us all and his memory and legacy will forever live on in the strength he gives us to face these obstacles. My hope is that we will all continue to remember Jeff and draw strength from his memory for the many years to come.
A few months back, the Moyer Foundation sent me a book called, “Better because…of you”. It is a book filled with inspirational stories and poems to help make life just a little bit better. I refer to this book quite often and there is one particular poem that spoke to me then and I hope will speak to you now.

“You can shed tears that he is gone,
Or you can smile because he lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that he’ll come back,
Or you can open your eyes and see all he’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him,
Or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow, and live yesterday,
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember him only that he is gone,
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
Be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what he’d want:
Smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”
– David Harkins
My hope is that you will continue to remember Jeff for the love, strength, faith and resolve he gave to us while here on this earth. I hope that you cherish your memories of him and let his legacy live on by helping others through their challenges. Finally, I hope that you will keep his memory alive by living your days with purpose and love for one another and that you will continue to do all you can to find a cure for cancer.
Love,
Sheila

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