Jun 22, 2015

Life is Short but Sweet for Certain

30 things you need to know when you turn 30... I can start a whole list of silly, quirky and applicable information.  Like, not to apply for a credit card at a concert.  I filled out an application for a Discover card once in my early 20’s; I think it got me a free t-shirt, and I still get Discover promotional mail almost 10 years later.  And never charge a trip to your credit card and think its fine to pay it off later. Why? Because the truth is, if you wait to pay for it after the trip, it never feels worth it and you have serious vacation-guilt.  Or not to take shots after midnight.  You can do this all through your 20’s, but, by the time you turn 30, you know that a shot after midnight guarantees spinning in your bed and a hangover that won’t quit.

I have a ton of these tips and I wanted to write them all down and make a “thirty and flirty” fun list. But two days before I turned 30, I got a phone call that my friend Chris had a brain aneurysm and he died. 

The hospital was keeping him on life support though, because he was an organ donor. “He’ll help a lot of people” they said.  Like that was somehow supposed to make his loved ones feel better.

He was in his 30’s. Not old by any standards.  In great health, just started a new job, happily married, and even more happily a new dad to his 18 month old baby boy.

The news shook me.  I couldn’t drive when I got the call.  I had to pull over. I kept thinking about his wife.  They were married for 5 years and only in the first few chapters of their story together.  I thought about his son and his family.  I thought about what a hard worker he was and what a good person he was.  I thought about how every time I saw him, he always had a smile on his face and a joke to tell.  I thought about how life got busy and we always hugged goodbye and promised we’d catch up soon… but we hadn’t made it happen yet.  I thought about how life seemed so unfair.

I have dealt with death.  I have no grandparents left and lost two uncles.  I’m 30 for God’s sake.  None of us have made it this far unscathed by death. But when it is the death of a peer, I have come to accept, and sometimes expect, the culprit to be a car accident or a drug overdose.  Those things that are God awful in their own right; but not unusual for my generation.  But a freak health incident?  A brain aneurysm? That’s’ not supposed to happen to us.  We’re still young.  If we work out and eat healthy, those things don’t apply to us.  We’re still in control.  We’re still invincible.

Or so we thought.

I went to his house the day I found out.  I wanted to do something for his wife—my friend too.  She hugged me when I came in the house and she congratulated me on my engagement.

Can you imagine?  A woman who in her own personal hell, minding her manners and giving proper salutations. Or maybe she was just trying to feel normal for a second?  Either way, I respected it and admired her.  There is no “right way” to deal with death.

She hugged me and told me how happy she was for me.  It made me feel awful, and yet I knew she really meant it.  Then she looked at me and her eyes welled up, “Even though I know…” then her voice trailed off, “It’s like, I’m just waiting for him to come home from work.”

I hugged her knowing that nothing I could do or say could ease her pain. Life was unfair.  This is how the cookie crumbled.  This was the hand she was dealt.  It is what it is.

We use lots clichés and old adages, but it doesn’t help.  It doesn’t ease our pain or make us accepting of his death.  There was nothing she could do. And yet rather than fall apart, she pulled it together, just in time for her perfect little son to toddle into the kitchen.

Then I saw strength.  The kind that only exists in the strongest of women and the toughest of mothers… she held her tears in and smiled at her son. “Do you want a drink buddy?”  It was as if she wasn’t crying.  She switched into “Mommy-Mode” and she was utterly selfless.

I watched her graciously navigate through the kitchen, past all the food trays people had brought over and around the flowers and fruit. Simple offerings that we as people give when we don’t know what to do or say, but want to help.

Selfishly I was happy the baby had come in.  I didn’t feel like I was even strong enough to think about what had happened to Chris, and he was only my friend.  This was her husband.

I thought about how Chris had made this woman a wife and a widow and a warrior.  

As the baby made his way out of the kitchen she looked back to me.  “If I have one piece of advice for you in marriage, it’s not to sweat the small stuff.  Because life is short and you never know…” she shrugged and began to well up again.

I’ve heard that cliché a ton of times.  I sang my heart out to the Dave Matthew’s line and posted it to my facebook profile and AIM away message all through my youth, “Life is short but sweet for certain.”  I had written it hundreds of times on notebooks, reading it over and over again; but this was the first time it struck me.  In the context of my friend’s kitchen, who was now a widow in her 30’s, I truly understood.

Her words hung in the air and they stuck to my heart.

I didn’t respond.  I just hugged her again, except this time it felt like she was comforting me. Death does that though, it makes everything feel backwards.

So screw the list of silly adages.  At least for today (maybe I’ll write that another time.)  For now, I think the most important thing we have to know by the time we turn 30 is, “not to sweat the small stuff, because life is short.”

Perspective on that one sentence can change how you respond to a cranky child, a barking pet, a traffic jam, and a problem at work.  It’s the difference between a quick hug, a bear hug and a good squeeze.  The difference between hanging up the phone and taking a moment to say “I love you.”  It’s what reminds us that life is truly a gift, death doesn’t discriminate or care about age, and we have to seize our happy moments.

So, I will start this decade, not only with a heavy heart for the loss of a friend (because my heart is heavy), but I will also start it with gratitude in my soul and perspective on my side… thanks to Chris.   

*And Chris is surely laughing that he finally made it into one of my blogs :)

Life is short but sweet for certain.”  Read it again.  “Life is short but sweet for certain.”  Take it in.  Breathe it in and out.  Hold onto it and live it.


Jun 5, 2015

Not Your Typical Love Letter

I have been blogging since 2009.  Almost 7 years of dating sagas, war stories and soap operas.  It has certainly given me some great inspiration and content.  Even the terrible dates I went on gave me insight and afflatus to write.  However, with time, comes change…  And I am ecstatic to report (for my own sake) that you will no longer reading any posts about dating –Well, not about MY dating experiences anyway.  I still have quite a few friends who are sharing their stories and willing to act as my muse.  But the dating content will no longer be in first person.  What I’m trying to say is I have said “YES” to my handsome fiancé.

So, since all of my readers have ridden the roller coaster of 20something dating with me, I wanted to share a personal piece that will explain why I am “off the market.”  So here it is, a letter to my fiancé…

Dear Eric,

Thank you for asking me to marry you.  It has been my favorite question thus far on our journey.  I said yes, because I love you.  All of you.  And I want to share how I feel…

You do not complete me.  You never could.  But I could never complete you either.  My wish for us is that we never feel “complete.” Because that means we get to keep having adventures, making memories, growing, loving, learning and living together.  Completeness was never something I looked for in our relationship.  I am a whole person, and I love you because you are a whole person.  I did not feel incomplete with you.  But I did feel lonely. And when we met, we had an instant connection.  It’s like we had our first date and then we were officially a couple.  No dating games, no break up and make up.  We both knew how rare it was for everything to “feel” right. It was never about filling a void, instead it was about recognizing a feeling.

And in these four years, we have grown.  A lot.  And we are continuing to work to be better versions of ourselves.  You push me and I push you.  What we have is harmony, for you compliment me, and I you.  We lift each other up and bring out the best versions of ourselves.

But please, know that I do not think you are the perfect man.  And I truly hope that you do not think I am the perfect woman.  Because, perfection is an exhausting, unattainable ruse; filled with false expectations and many disappointments.  Instead, I want you to know that you are my counterpart. We are contrarian. We know that both “completeness” and “perfection” are not real.  So we have never wasted time on those.

Instead, we paid more attention to what was real; which is how we feel, how we think and how we love. And what we found on our journey is that we fit.  So for that, we are “perfect” for each other.

I never liked fairytales; the idea of being helpless and needing to be saved.  But you already know that about me. As you say, I came out of the womb with a burnt bra in my hand. :) But I guess I never liked the fairytale story because the author doesn't reveal the truth about being “saved.” And the truth is, that saving has to be egalitarian. 

In a successful relationship, we both have moments where we’re the vulnerable one who needs to be saved, and conversely, we both have moments where we step up (on the cliché white horse)  and do the saving.

Choosing to be together means knowing and trusting, when to be humble enough to ask for saving…and when to be strong enough to do it.  It’s not mutually exclusive.  We both need it.  We will both provide it at different points and at different times.

Besides, the idea of a fairytale is so singular.  Life is so much more complex. It’s a myriad of stories; comedies, fairytales, tragedies and dramas.  I want to have them all with you.  We will be the wind beneath each others wings and we will face life, holding hands, side by side.

And, I want you to know that I will not be marrying my best friend as many of the sappy sayings go.  I already have best friends, great woman who I am lucky enough to have by my side. Besides, "Best friend” is only a small piece of what we are.  You’re so much more than that…you are my partner, my sounding board, my rock, my home.  

We do not need each other, we choose each other.  It’s not that I am so dependent that I feel compelled to say, “I couldn’t live without out.”  I just don’t ever want to.  Having you in my life has shown me joy that I didn’t know existed and I don’t ever want to be without that.

So, I choose you and I want to be with you, every day, for the rest of our days. For I have found the one whom my soul loves.

With all of my love,



"I do" :)