The. Real. Things.

I’m not going to sugar coat.  It’s been a hell of a day.

This morning we learned that my aunt passed away.  I’ve mentioned before that we’ve been struggling with some family health crises.  This was one of them.  She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a year ago.  In the past month we knew her time was short.  Angry with myself for not doing more in this past year, I scrambled to think of what on earth I could do now.  It was her birthday last week, and I realized she’d never met my little girls (she lives out West), so I made a short video of them saying hello and happy birthday.  I heard back that she’d watched it several times and loved it.  The next night we sent another, just saying hello and explaining that we were about ready for bed and reading Nancy Drew.  After that, I had this great idea.  I’d send videos of myself showing her our life, introducing her to my husband, showing her around my house, etc.  I found out she really didn’t have the capacity to follow all the things I’d planned to say and show her.  I’d missed my window.

Can I tell you about her?  She and my uncle have been together forever.  In my mind, because I just didn’t see them very often, they were the cool ones in the family.  Best friends with no kids, they lived the life they wanted, and it seemed like they were always having so much fun.  She was kind, and funny, and good.  She had helped my uncle through his own health crises several years ago, he’d made it through, and this was the time they were supposed to be relishing in his health.  Instead, she got sick, and they’ve spent the past year doing everything they could to fight it.  I was only able to visit once after she was diagnosed and she was still positive and cheerful.  Even though she was in the fight of her life, she still took the time to comment on my Facebook and blog posts, and to text back when I sent her messages.

I am so lucky to have had her in my life and I think it’s safe to say that everyone who knew her would agree.  Merely saying she will be missed feels so completely inadequate.

Also happening today, my husband and I are faced with making some big life decisions.  We’ve emailed, and texted, and spoken on the phone 894 times today, just going over the facts.  He’s distracted.  I’m distracted.

Miracle of all miracles I’ve managed to get work done today but my mind is elsewhere.  It’s with my uncle.  It’s with my husband.  And, like anyone who has lost someone, I’ve spent a good amount of time thinking of all the things that occupy my mind each day and how much of it doesn’t actually matter.

It’s true.  We all have situations, or people, or things in our lives that are frustrating and crazy-making.  We get to begrudge those things.  We get to complain about them from time to time.  I’ve certainly done my share of lamenting on this blog.  It’s sometimes refreshing to hear of other people’s struggles as we come to terms with our own.  Or at least it’s entertaining…if nothing else.  And it’s sometimes irritating to only hear of someone’s good fortune and happiness.  Like…okay we get it…you’re happy.  Shut up already.

But there’s something to be said for taking a day, here and there, to really look at things.  In the light of day, with clear eyes, seeing things as they truly are.  Today I find myself doing just that.  Almost like looking through the windshield of my life.  There are real things…things that have actual bearing on the reality of my life.  And then there are the superfluous things that, when peering closely, don’t even show up.

I’m lucky to be married to a guy who has turned out to be the love of my life.  As unexpected as he was when he showed up in my life, and as tricky and challenging as those first few years were, we have found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a romance that I don’t think either of us knew was possible.  I don’t know if the rest of our days will be as peaceful and joyful as it is right this second but I do know that this is exactly where I want to be.

Our little girls?  If ever there was icing on a cake in the most real sense…they are it.  The joy, and love, and humor, and depth they bring to my life every second of every day is hard for me to even wrap my head around.  I’m constantly hoping that I am giving them as much as they are giving me.  I’m not certain that’s even possible but I will die trying.

Every day I walk into my office and I get to greet my family.  Because my family rules, I’m actually able to love doing that.  I don’t know how people go through their lives without a family they adore.  I’m well aware of how lucky this makes me.  I’m so grateful to feel that luck each and every day.

I haven’t seen my girlfriends in a while.  Work has been crazy, their jobs have kept them busy, and the time has flown.  I have no idea how we got to May.  We’ve canceled nearly every wine night this year, dinners have been planned, and rescheduled, and forgotten, and there are people who mean the world to me that I haven’t spoken to in weeks.  But they remain one of the most important parts of my life.  They are my backbone, and my strength, and my humor, and my best personality traits all wrapped into one lovely group of women.  I miss them dearly but I know each of them is still there.

And frankly?  And I mean this in the most humble way possible…I’m really glad I’m me.  I’ve worked so hard to become this version of me.  I’m proud of myself, I like myself, and I feel so happy and comfortable in my own skin.  Skin that’s a little more wrinkled than I would like, that’s a little too white for my taste, but it’s mine and I wouldn’t want to be anyone else.

There are other things I love.  My house (even with the many things about it that make me want to pull my hair out), my work, my writing, my baby dog Sullivan, and all of the colorful and wonderful things that fill-in one’s life.

But really?  Nothing else matters.  If I take this day to look at all of the things I hold dear, and I live a life I know my aunt would be proud of, I know where my attention and priorities should lie.  I know what I should be grateful for.  And I know it’s my job to do everything in my power to protect those things with all of my might.  While I let the rest of it fall away.

Of course my sarcasm will return.  As will my complaints about life.  And I don’t plan to write overly cheerful posts each day that will make you all gag.  But on this day…on the day that my aunt Tracy died…on this day I will look at my life with clear (and perhaps wet) eyes and say thank you.

TODAY:  What if I take this sad day to focus on the real things.  The things that matter most.

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