My sister emailed me a few weeks ago to tell me a friend from our hometown was battling Ovarian cancer. Then she texted me the other night to tell me her dad had been seriously injured in a car wreck. I wondered, 'How much can one family take?'
That same night I saw on the news that former local television reporter Susie Edwards had died from cancer.
I competed against Susie when I worked at Channel 19. That's back when Channel 19 and Channel 48 were locked in a fierce battle for number one. It was serious competition. Susie was one of those rare people who you could go head-to-head against in the field, and as soon as the cameras went off you could laugh about it. She was always funny, kind and gracious. I always enjoyed seeing her and being around her.
When Melissa died, she put aside that competition and sent me the kindest letter. That meant a lot to me.
I went to bed that night with such a heavy heart. There is just so much sorrow in the world.
Life - for all of it's wonderful, inspiring and exhilarating moments - is cruel.
Chris and I know that all too well.
One moment you're on top of the world, celebrating the ultrasound that just showed you were having two little girls.
The next moment you are signing your daughter's death certificate on your fifth wedding anniversary.
Since that day, I have battled fear. Fear that something would happen to the ones I love, especially Ann Catherine and Lily Baker.
It's a constant struggle for me. After all, I know how quickly you can lose someone you love.
I know all moms struggle with this to a degree, but it's so real for those of us who have held our children as they took their last breaths.
We don't love our children any more than other moms, but I do believe we hold onto them a little tighter.
I don't want to hold on so tight that I suffocate my them. I don't want to project my fear onto them. I want them to continue on this journey of life with a clean slate. Yes, they've learned about death earlier than most children. But Melissa's death doesn't have to define our family.
We've experienced so many joys too. Ann Catherine survived against the odds. Then God sent us the blessing of Lily Baker. And along the way, we're shared more laughs, snuggles, hugs and joy than I could have ever imagined.
I don't believe in New Year's resolutions. You put too much pressure on yourself to stick with them, then you set yourself up for failure if you don't.
So instead, I have a prayer for 2011. A prayer that I can learn to live without fear. A prayer that I can live in the here and now, with the acceptance that I can't control the future. A prayer that I will trust God to protect our family and when/if something bad does happen, a prayer that I will trust Him to lead us through that too. A prayer that I will live everyday to be the best mother and wife I can be, and leave the rest up to God. A prayer that I can balance the loss of my daughter with the beauty of life that exists in my other two daughters. A prayer I won't worry about the things I have no control over. A prayer that I will focus instead on the life that lies ahead of our family.
A prayer that I will embrace life for what it is: an exhilarating, frustrating, joyous and maddening ride full of small bumps, massive potholes and amazing views on your way to the ultimate destination. I'm excited to take that ride, but I'm happy to let God do the driving.
And there's no one on Earth I'd rather ride along with than Chris, Ann Catherine and Lily Baker.