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21 life lessons learned since April 29, 1999

Exactly twenty-one years ago today, my husband of nearly seven years died suddenly of a heart attack. I remember it as if it was just happened yesterday.

I was a 32-year old, stay-at-home mom with a 3-year old daughter, living in a new city with only a couple of people I knew that I could call for help. My life changed overnight, and not in a good way.

The thoughts of giving up crossed my mind so often, but then I remember what my late husband asked of me before we got married in June 1992, “Promise me you can live without me. Tell me I’m a marrying a woman with a back bone.” Romantic? Hell, no! But I took the challenge. So, I promised him I would never sing, “How am I supposed to live without you?” no matter how popular that theme was and still is.

So on the 21st anniversary of his passing, I want to do three things:

(1) To celebrate the power of love and all that I have learned from the University of Life. I signed up for a lifetime of education, so I will never graduate until I die. But this is one of the major milestones. And I will celebrate how far I’ve come after 21 years of constant learning.

(2) To thank everyone who has helped me learn along the way (family, relatives, friends, colleagues, professors, mentors, therapists, coaches, students, clients, even strangers)—I cannot get to where I am now without your contributions in form of physical and emotional support, kindness, trust, faith, generosity with your time, energy, friendship, and financial help in my time of need.

(3) To share what I’ve learned with you so that maybe, just maybe, those lessons will inspire you to take your own inward journey with courage. Maybe my mistakes will help you find a new way of doing things, and my failures can instill hope when you are about to give up during challenging times. I don’t know what my writing will do. If nothing else, I hope that it will at least remind you that we are all humans who will experience loss with all the waves of emotions that come with it, with tons of unknown things that it may bring, but also with all the new things that can grow out the pain.

It is my intention that in the next twenty-one weeks, I will share with you the twenty-one life lessons I’ve been learning since April 29th 1999--one lesson at a time. Some of them I have mastered well, others are half way there, and the rest are still in the early stage of learning them. It is not perfection that we are after. It is about being okay with being "in progress" and have the courage to show up anyway.

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