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“In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.”(Leo Tolstoy)

This quote pretty much sums up my challenge to myself this year.  Last year was one of the most emotional roller coasters in 365 days I have ever experienced.  It started with the high of my oldest getting engaged.  How exciting it was to get the news that she was now going to get married.  My daughter is a beautiful, strong, creative, calm & an extraordinary person – if I do say so myself.  The planning of the happy event promptly began in early January.  By the end of the month the dates, venues, photographers, photo booth & cakes were decided.  Yes, you read right, these ended in “s” as she was determined to have her brother attend which meant taking the wedding ceremony to California where he is serving in the Marines AND having a reception in our home state of Minnesota.

My brother, who just retired from the Marines, also lived in California.  He & his wife were enlisted to help with the planning there. In spite of the miles between us we have spent a number of holidays & vacations together amongst our family who is spread out all over the US & we were all excited to be getting together once again.   But my brother did the unthinkable, the hard to mentionable, the most desperate & for so many reasons the unfathomable – he committed suicide.  This was the 1st week of February.  Needless to say this 2nd month of the year was quite an emotional plummet from the joy of January.  This would cast a shadow over the rest of the year for me.  You see the year I became engaged & married to my husband now (1989)  was also the same year another brother of mine committed suicide.  Unfortunately this was not the road less traveled now for me or my family.  For that reason my siblings & I had forged further our bond all those years ago.  We evaluated our relationships to each other, made promises to share everything, reach out always, & bear all things together.

I am one of six, hence my moniker here, & my young brother’s presence exists in our lives like a phantom limb – never to be forgotten.  When you’ve know this gut wrenching loss & work day by day & year by year to move forward, replacing the sadness with joy, you just do not think it could happen again.  But happen it did.  To a “mighty oak” as someone had described my brother that most recently end his life.  And now there are four of us, re-evaluating our relationships together & individually.

My daughter’s wedding & reception saw her vision manifested.  They were both beautiful affairs & perfect for remembering in the years to come.  It gave my family the blessing of coming together for a second time in a one year span, knitting together all the joys & sorrows to leave us with seeing not just another person missing but with a new addition to the family – my loving son-in-law.  He has known our family for sometime now & it was a balm to my soul to see him hold my daughter up during our families loss as my husband did before him for me all those years ago & still today.

2012 was ushered in with a new engagement – that of my youngest son, the Marine.  Life continues it’s march forward & I find I have to be very intentional to not miss the moments.  All of them, day by day, are bound together to create our each individually unique stories.  And how important it is to tell your stories, the good & the bad, for life is all of that.  It is how you live while living & live on when no longer here.  Life is a priceless currency – some days seeming as insignificant as a penny & some days feeling like a million dollars – all of it has value.

Stop, look around you & savor the moments.

“Although time seems to fly, it never travels faster than one day at a time. Each day is a new opportunity to live your life to the fullest. In each waking day, you will find scores of blessings and opportunities for positive change. Do not let your TODAY be stolen by the unchangeable past or the indefinite future! Today is a new day!”(Steve Maraboli)