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I’m discussing my 2017 triumphs and tragedies. It was a huge year for me: deaths, a pregnancy, and a wedding. This is my 2017 Wrap-Up and Reflection. I’m looking forward to hearing about your year, too!
The older I get, the more I feel like every year is a wild rollercoaster and I’m just along for the ride. I can’t control it. I can’t direct it or stop it. All I can do is hang on tight. The only control I have is my outlook on the ride: what did I learn? What will I do differently next time? How did it change me? Wheres the beauty in it all?
So, here I say again: 2017 was a rollercoaster of emotions. Except is was the biggest, fastest, longest, wildest rollercoaster I’ve ever been on. We’re talking twists and turns, loop-dee-loops, the highest of highs, and lowest of lows. But, I survived it and I’m stronger, better, and more prepared because of it. Which is fantastic since I’m newly married with my first child on the way.
2017: A Year of Tragedy & Triumph
I don’t live my life promising I’ll do better next year. I strive to better today than I was yesterday, every day. I don’t even want to recognize the person I was a year ago. That’s how I live my life. I can definitely say that I met that goal in 2017.
My year started strong. I triumphantly accepted my first ever Disney Social Media Moms Conference invite. The invite itself was an honor, but the experience changed my life forever. I made a handful of new friends, building memories that I’ll cherish forever. For the first time in a very long time, I felt like I belonged. That’s a really great feeling, especially in a business that can sometimes drag you down. I walked away feeling more triumphant than I ever had in my blogging career. Things really took off after that: I attended my first ever Marvel red carpet event and landed some pretty sweet partnerships. Things were going great… until tragedy struck.
The loss of a great but simple man…
Spring activities had just slowed down and summer fun was on the horizon. I was making plans for an upcoming event when all of a sudden, I got a call that would change our family dynamic forever: my uncle died suddenly.
The paternal side of my family is very close and our bonds have strengthened greatly over the past 5 years. Holiday gatherings and spontaneous outings weren’t unusual for us. We always gathered at my grandmother’s house for big dinners and very competitive outdoor games of Corn Hole. My uncle was a big part of our gatherings; he was basically a walking party. He was always surrounded by a group of people. He seemed to attract everyone with his wild taste for life. I’d always giggle to myself when I thought of the crazy stories my favorite cousin would tell me about growing up with him, as a single dad. He was her best friend. That’s the first thing I thought when I got that dreaded phone call. My second thought was of my sweet grandmother who just lost a child. I told my husband and he held me while I cried. He fought back tears as he thought of the short but sweet memories he had with my uncle. Within a few days, we packed up and drove from Florida to Missouri to be with my cousins and to plan a funeral we’d never imagined would happen.
We hadn’t lost anyone in my family in almost 20 years. I remember my pain when I lost my grandfather. I didn’t know how I’d handle my uncle’s funeral, but I did it. I was stronger than I ever thought I’d be. It took me awhile to recover. I came home and couldn’t focus enough to work for weeks. I eventually got back into the swing of things when life handed me another huge surprise…
There’s a bun in the oven…
I’d just returned home from the D23 Expo (which was a bucket list adventure) and I felt strange. My body was doing weird things and I was more exhausted than usual. I literally slept for an entire day and even missed a deadline when I got home. That was totally unlike me. I decided to take a pregnancy test to appease my best friend who always thought I was pregnant (wishful thinking on her part). The whole story is written on my blog, but you guessed it – there was a bun in the oven! My uncle had died 1 month and 4 days before I found out. It was all still fresh in our minds. I was afraid to share the good news, only to discover later that this was a blessing that we all needed. I think my uncle had a chat with the big man upstairs to make this happen.
So, my pregnancy journey began and my life changed forever. The miracle of a child and the power of a woman’s body truly gives you a brand new appreciation for life!
The baby bump slowed me down a bit, but I managed to take life by the horns. I attended an event for The Lion King Blu-ray release at Walt Disney World for a few days, I traveled to California for one last Disney event with my best friend – the Thor: Ragnarok event, I traveled on the largest cruise ship in the world with my then-fiancé and grandparents, and I finished out the year with a DreamWorks Animation event for the release of Trolls: The Beat Goes On! Netflix series and Trollhunters Season 2. I’m not one to brag, but I think I managed to keep up with everyone quite well. Oh, the stories I’ll be able to tell my little bundle of joy. Did I mention that I survived Hurricane Irma? That was another wild card thrown at me.
In the midst of my adventures, more tragedy struck. I’d already lost my uncle and couldn’t possible handle anything else. Then, just 10 days before my wedding – I got a call that hurt my very soul. I lost my beautiful, blue-eyed, little sister. The little sister that I never got a real shot at getting to know. The little sister that at times, was a spitting image of my father. At only 26 years old, my baby sister had died. This hit me harder than I could have ever imagined. I had to watch my grandmother lose someone again. I had to see my father say goodbye to another daughter. I was now his only child. I am now a woman without a sister.
I’d just lost my sister. My entire family was grieving. How could I possibly put on a smile with this dark cloud over my wedding day. Being happy gave me an incredible sense of guilt. But, I had to suck it up – this was the biggest day of my life and while my emotions were fighting me, the logical side told me that I deserved this. I deserved to be happy on my special day.
Walking down the aisle
After a year of planning, a dress that had to be let-out, and lots of setbacks – our big day was finally here! On November 4th, 2017, I married the love of my life. I walked down the beautiful aisle surrounded my all my favorite people and said “I Do” as I watched him, watching me with more love I’d ever seen in his eyes before. I stood in my grandmother’s yard, under an alter that she handmade just for us. I was filled with more joy than I’d ever felt in my life. I got to experience, for the first time ever, our families togethers as one. Never in my life have I felt so grateful and loved. It couldn’t have been more beautiful. I felt the presence of my uncle and sister there with us. It was all smiles and only happy tears. If I could do it all over again, I’d do it exactly the same way.
2017: A Final Reflection of My Year
My year may have been riddled with tragedy, but my blessings are so bright and beautiful that I can’t help but to keep a smile on my face. My heart still aches and will always ache for the loss of my uncle and sister. The hurt will never go away, I will just learn to deal with it. I have no choice but to keep moving forward. I am a wife and mommy now. I have so many reasons to stay strong and so much to look forward to. 2017 taught me that I’m stronger than I think. Had this happened to me 5 years ago, I’m not sure that I could have handled it the way I did this year. 2017 taught me that I am worthy of a love greater than I’ve ever known before.
As I reflect on this year, I can say that I’m a better woman because of all my tragedies and triumphs. I still practice humility and I’m slowly learning to create my own journey, rather than trying to follow another’s. I’ve learned that my body is a damn temple and I can grow a strong, healthy child. I’ve learned that I am a force to be reckoned with and the ending of one year, is the beginning of a life so beautiful, wild, and rare that I can barely comprehend it.
2017 taught me to not be afraid of anything. Death is a part of life and my faith will get my through it all. I’m not afraid to take leaps, to put all my eggs in one basket, to fall or fail. I am not afraid to be imperfect or to admit when I’m wrong. I am no longer afraid of change or goodbyes. I’ve grown to understand that I don’t need to see the future to know there’s light at the end of the tunnel. And, I’m certainly not afraid of opening up, speaking out, and asking for help if I need it. You shouldn’t be either.
What life-changing events happened to you in 2017?