I hope that each and every one of you had a fantastic and memorable Christmas! Our little family had probably the greatest one ever. If you reference the title of this post and do a little research, you will find the signifigance. This year 2015, has been both the happiest year of my life and the most challenging, terrifying, and difficult- at the same time.
I have struggled personally, emotionally, as well as spiritually; on January 5, 2015, as Brady and I ate breakfast at 7:20 in the morning and were preparing him for his school day, a massive three section part of a large pine on our property came crashing down onto our home. Singly the most frightening sound I have ever heard in my life. The process of removal began immediately in zero or below temperatures by my husband, our friend, Bill Humphrey- who with one call was here in minutes and returned each day for many days to come. We can never thank you enough, Bill!!! Our neighbor, Tim Horrigan, whose home was damaged by the high winds that day as well, came rushing over, too. When inspections were all said and done, we submitted a claim to our insurance company for a roughly $23,000 loss. We were so blessed that no windows blew out, nor was there any severe structural damage that would have caused us to have to leave our home for a time. For that fact, we are forever thankful. I won’t, however, forget the horrible feeling I would get whenever I would walk by our kitchen window that overlooks our patio. I prayed for the snow to stay forever- and last winter, it felt at points like it might- I just could not bear to look at the tangled pile of metal and wood that was once our side lawn. It was functioning at that point as a graveyard for what was destroyed from the collapse of the tree. Repairs were complete in early June- we had to wait for Spring, it IS New York, and we went about the job of replacing the “stuff” that was destroyed outside. ( Lawnmowers, Barbeque grills, Patio furniture, etc.)
Right around this time, I finally started to feel so much better emotionally, and enrolled myself in school- online through Kaplan University- to complete my Bachelor’s Degree. I had graduated in May 2014 with my Associate’s from SUNY Broome in Health Sciences. My passion for helping others and pushing on towards my MSW and a career as a Therapist was back on track!!
Fast forward to Mid November- Ryan and I come downstairs one very early morning to find that our heat is not working. He had to leave for work right away, so we decided we would deal with it later, and moved on with our day. I returned home later that afternoon and ventured down to our basement to discover: our furnace and the floor around it covered in fuel oil. I knew that this was big trouble. I won’t subject my readers to all the daily struggles that the next TWO weeks without heat or hot water put on my family, but as you may be able to imagine, it was just short of a nightmare. We finally were given the thumbs up that our new furnace was completely installed and operational and we were ecstatic!! We had persevered once again, as a fearsome foursome, and not unlike Memorial weekend when temperatures dropped to 30 degrees, we had weathered the storm!!!
Ryan and I were trudging right along with our classes, just as our bright, sweet boys are with their schooling, as we are both online students. Ryan has maintained straight A’s since he returned to school last fall. He has just completed his third semester attending full time. He is truly inspiring, as this past semester, he tackled 16 credits, all while working full-time and maintaining his Air National Guard career. ( He just entered his 17th year of service.)
I definitely did not have a course in mind for where this post would go as I sat down yesterday to begin it. All I had was the title that I thought was fitting for what I mentioned has been easily the most challenging year of my life. Before I began to write this, I carefully dressed in my favorite black dress, sometimes worn to weddings and parties. However, yesterday I put it on to go to the funeral of a dear friend of myself and Ryan. Ron was a unique and charismatic individual, who had the ease to be able to start up an interesting conversation with anyone he happened to meet. I won’t forget the first time I met him, outside on my own back lawn on a beautiful Autumn Saturday in 2009. It was Carter’s 6th Birthday and he was bringing his daughter, Gia, to the party. I was taken aback a bit, usually it is the Moms that shuffle the kids around, but Ron was not your ordinary Dad. He shook my hand firmly, being a retired Corrections Officer and avid sportsman, he was in very good shape. I remember inviting him back to enjoy the party and was surprised to hear him tell me, Yes, he would be back, he was going to go home and pick up the rest of the clan! He was serious- and what a wonderful family he had with his wife, Sonja, and their now 8 children. I have lost friends and loved ones before, and I am always left with the feeling that I am being directed to examine my OWN life. As a popular song’s lyrics say: “We are not promised tomorrow.” I am proud to call Sonja and her children our friends and will be there for them every way I can in the months and years to come.
I would like to say I held it together yesterday, but that would be a lie. Our Pastor is so happy to welcome this family into our church, and being a father of five, he stood before these glorious children, tears brimming and gave them some fatherly advice- care for one another, forgive one another, be there for each other throughout this, and in life, and help your Mom. I expected nothing less from the caring, Godly man Kenny is. Then….The kilt-wearing bagpiper appeared and the haunting sound of Amazing Grace filled every space in our church. I looked to my husband, who on my right was holding Ron and Sonja’s sleeping 23 month old daughter, Mila. Tears streamed down his strong, normally stoic face. This was just not fair- but we must not despair, but know in our hearts that this gentle, life-loving man who we were blessed to call “friend” was now with our Lord and would be in our hearts forever.
Rest in Peace, Ron. I hope you are riding the shiniest Harley in the sky!