Tuesday, October 16, 2012

More Lessons Learned From Amy

This is a repeat post from last year.  It's the anniversary of my sister-in-law's passing, and I just needed to say that I love her a lot and miss her still.  Life moves forward, and everyone is doing well -- really well, in fact -- but that doesn't mean I don't still miss her in my life.  Love you, Amy.


I've been missing Amy a lot lately.  I didn't realize how much until mid-grumpiness over the weekend when it hit me square:  last year, on the 16th of October, we got the devastating news that our sister-in-law had passed away unexpectedly at the age of 38.

Beyond the shock and the grief came the unbearable pain that we would never again get one of her hugs or hear that laugh of hers that warmed you from the inside out.  For a while, it was as though all the light had gone out of our world, and we were left to scuttle along with a flickering candle where our hope had been.

But there were children to tend to and arrangements to manage and, as they say, life goes onward whether we are ready for it to do so or not.

Somehow, somewhere, mercifully the smiles have returned, the days have gotten a little brighter and the memories of Amy no longer carry that knife-sharp pain of loss, but instead are filled with an ever-lessening wistful loss and a whole lot of love and warmth.

We are now a year past that day when we lost her -- that horrible, horrible day -- and I've learned a few more things since my last post on the lessons that Amy taught me in her all-too-brief life. 

Let's start from where we left off:

1) Never go to bed without your spouse knowing how much you love them. Losing Amy was really hard, but knowing that her husband had no doubt in his mind about how solid their love was? Made it ever so slightly easier.

2) Who cares what size you wear, when everyone is really looking at how amazing your heart and mind are.

3) On a trying day, when everything is getting on everyone's nerves? Patience is always the right answer.   I need to work on that one.  A lot.

4) When all else fails? Try laughing out loud. It makes everything better somehow.

5) Then laugh again. Because it will make everything better for everyone else, too.

6) It helps if you find the humor in things. Because frustration is not nearly as fun as humor can be.

7) Nothing is permanent. So you have to enjoy the heck out of life while you can, every chance you get.

8) Fear holds you back from that.

9) Make certain that your children never, ever doubt for a moment how much you love them. Amy's kids know how much their mother loved them -- she showed them her love every single day, in the little sacrifices she made on their behalf, in the hugs and pats she gave them every day, in the steady, loving support she gave them when they failed and when they succeeded -- she loved them all the same, and it was a lot. Those kids can now hold that love securely in their hearts as they move forward, and it is an enormous comfort.

10) Love really is the answer to almost everything life throws in your path. Cherish it.

11) Go out and have an adventure. And enjoy the heck out of it.

12) And don't wait until someday to do it, either.

13) If you are still waiting for "someday," make it begin today.

14) Take good care of yourself.  You deserve it, and you'll help everyone else around you if you are happier and healthier in your own self.  This is a tough one, especially for those of us who tend to put the needs of others before our own, but it is vital:  put on your own oxygen mask first, so you can continue to help the ones you love.  If my recent breast cancer scare taught me nothing else, this is an important one to re-emphasize for all our sakes.  We women can be horrible about this, and we need to take better care of ourselves for our own sake as well as all of our families.

15)  Tell the people you love how much you care whenever you think about doing so.  Don't wait.  Don't get to it later.  Do it now.  Because you never know what is around the corner.

16)  Cherish those moments that you get together.  The quiet time helping your child with homework, the laugh with your husband over something silly, all those little things add up to some really important moments that are worth savoring -- then and there -- so that they are not missed.

17)  Dance.  Sing.  Laugh.  Play.  As often as you possibly can.  Life is too short to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders all the time.

18)  If you can't find someone to dance along with you?  Dance anyway.  Dance the heck out of life, to your own beat, and when you find the path that makes you happiest?  Take it for all it is worth.

19)  Don't wait.

20)  That dream you've been nursing along in your secret heart?  The one you won't even admit to yourself is there, but it always has been, just waiting for you to take the leap of faith and go for it?  Seize the day.  (Right now, Mr. ReddHedd is hoping I'll take my own advice.)

21)  Most of all, learn to love yourself.  Really love yourself, warts and cellulite and whatever else makes you grimace and all.  That's a tough one for a lot of us, but imagine how much more fun we'd all be having if we got out of our own way, stopped worrying about the superficial crap, and just enjoyed life to the fullest.

22)  Live.  NOW.

As cliche as it is, the lyrics to LeeAnn Womack's classic, "I Hope You Dance," get it just right:

May you never take one single breath for granted....
When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.

I'm so grateful to have known Amy.  To still know Amy.  Her spirit was amazing, her smile was magical, but it was her heart that was the most powerful thing of all.

The irony of it failing her in the end is more painful than I can possibly convey.  I only hope that I've been able to share some of that amazing heart with all of you, because her capacity for love and hope is worth sharing. 

If you agree, share some of Amy's lessons with someone you love today.  Put her love and laughter to work in your own life.  Somehow, I think she would love that

(Photo via chris17nz.)

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