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Sixteen Years Later.

do we ever really 'get over' the loss of someone we love?

can that hole ever be truly filled?

will we ever be the same person we were before?


for me, the answer is no.

sixteen years ago, my identity, my heart and my life was forever changed.

a simple blink of an eye, and every single thing I had ever known, loved, and needed, GONE.

one single second, and I, without any warning,

would be changed for the entire course of the rest of my life.

and in many ways, not for the better.


sixteen short, yet so tormentingly long, years ago, I was living and enjoying my life as a twenty-one-year-old college student, living at home, barely having to do any adulting at all, and then, THAT moment...


I blinked.


and my entire family was gone.


literally.


my only parents, my only two sisters and my only brother...pronounced dead after my dad's small, single engine Cessna airplane crashed alongside the runway, as he had a heart-attack while trying to make an emergency landing AT the freaking airport...


ya, the irony right?

it still really hasn't sunk in completely for me either...


sixteen years ago, June 29th, 2008.


i was changed forever.

sole survivor.

completely alone and left behind.


now, many of the days, weeks, and even years immediately after the accident, i literally dont remember. people ask me all the time to share what that was like...and in all honestly, I dont remember... or perhaps, i just cant remember...fight or flight, right?


there are clips of memories that come to mind, there are thoughts i remember I had at that time, there are specific moments, I remember so clearly and so vividly and then most of everything else is just a blur, mixed with so many tears and SO much disbelief.


how?

why?

wait, what?


i mean, before this loss I remember distinctly when my aunt died, and then again when my grandma died, and then again, when my grandpa died. and i think, with each of those loses, i too, lost a part of my heart, i obviously didnt know it then because I was young, however, even those loses, those not immediately connected to me specifically, changed me, forever.


loss changes us.

no matter who it is.

death was never meant to be a part of this life,

God didnt equip us to deal with this sort of heartbreak, as it wasn't part of His good and perfect plan to begin with.


I think thats why its so hard on us.

so hard to explain.

so hard to understand.

SO hard to coexist with.


yet, here we are...

every, single, day.... death. dying. tragedy.


perhaps, death is the ONE, single way we all, every single person on the face of the earth can relate to one another on.

no matter who you are, you have almost certainly lost someone, are in the process of losing someone or will soon loose someone.


I know, you dont want to hear that, but it is true. and it sucks. and im sorry.


sixteen years ago, i didnt know death, like i do now.


but,


sixteen years ago, I didnt know LIFE, like i do now.

sixteen years ago, i was a completely different person.

sixteen years ago, i would have never thought, i would be able to survive life, as I can now.


loss changes us.

grief changes us.

yet, what choice do we have?

every day, we carry on.


after all, we too, have a death date.

if you died today, how would people remember you?

how would you want to be remembered?

what would you want them to say about you sixteen years later?


sixteen years ago, i had big dreams to be a wealthy doctor or business owner, living in high rise apartment in a big, beautiful city, i would have a 'cool car' and be a 'cool aunt' and be living some fantasy of an amazing life...LOL


and, if you know me at all, you know I have accomplished NONE of those things that were on my sixteen years ago bucket list...


loss changes us. changes our hopes.

death changes us. changes our dreams.

grief changes us. changes our life.


see, after this loss, I had babies, and my babies healed me a bit, and we were just crusin along life, yes, missing my immediate family, but creating this 'new' family....feeling 'okay' again.


fastforward, ten years later from sixteen years ago...


now, my sweet boys are the passengers in their own small airplane, but their crash didn't kill them on impact, their crash left them in a state of torture, with a horrific, incurable, progressive disease that would slowly take away their bodies, their strength, and their life....all while, I, their mom, must watch....


their airplane, Duchenne, is worse than the Cessna.


this crash, my friends, brings on a whole new level of grief,

a different kind of death,

a new feeling of loss...

and had I not known the loss of my family, i know, I would not be able to survive the many losses for and of my boys.


it has all irrevocably changed me. again.


and now, six years after my boys crash,

i AGAIN, am another completely different person.


six years ago, i didnt know how lucky i was to BE ABLE to put my hand on my head.

six years ago, i didnt know how to be truly thankful TO SEE the sunrise.

six years ago, i didnt realize just how important finding Jesus really was all those years ago.

six years ago, i would have never thought, i would be able to survive life, as I can now.


So, how are you going to be remembered after your gone?

Do you want people to be changed by your life and your death?

I know I do.

I want people to remember my evolution not my demise, because of all the loss, death and grief I have endured.


As I remember my beautiful family, sixteen years later, I remember SO much. I remember how much they loved me and every single person that came into and was a part of their life. I remember their selfless nature, their contagious smiles, their laughs. I remember thinking, there was just no way I could ever live without any of them, let alone ALL of them. I remember my dads UGLY orange sweatshirt, always having to straighten my mom's hair, Jessy always stealing my clothes and Jen always stealing my water bottles and Buda, listening to his gangster rap music and I can still even hear the sound of his always bouncing basketball. I think what I remember the most, is ALL the people who were ALWAYS around. We never we alone. We always felt loved. SO many people were a part of our life sixteen years ago....and I just really wish, those people still made an effort to be around now.... sixteen years later.


and I hope, if you knew my family, and you are taking a moment to remember them this year, sixteen years later, you will be reminded of how much they meant to you, and you will remember, that I am STILL here...without them, sixteen years later.


The memorial bench is still up and open to the public if you want to go to a physical place to remember them this year. Chandler Municipal Airport, please reach out if you need the pin location of the bench site....my number hasn't changed.


Friends, I'm sure you've heard that story of the tombstone, and everyone has a birthdate and a death date...but we ALL also have a dash...and to me, now, after all these years, i am certain, the dash is the most important marking on that tombstone.


How's your DASH going?


sixteen years later, my beautiful family, I only hope you are proud of how im living my dash.


xo















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