It should be a good day….


It’s my beautiful granddaughters 1 year old birthday party. She is so precious and my heart just bursts every time I see her. So why on such a happy occasion am I crying?

Is anyone else a “This is Us” fan? I totally love that show! I was hooked immediately and think the writer is a genius for how he continuously intertwines the story line. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s a Netflix must! But you gotta start from the beginning.

Many nights I would find myself in tears watching this family go back and forth between enjoying the best of life while accepting the worst that life can give.  It is a story of a family surviving the challenges of life, the death of their husband/father and then the challenges of the changes that occur from adjusting to life without their husband and dad. This Is Us is beautifully written and I have processed a lot of my own grief through watching them experience their own losses and the challenges of finding a new norm.

There is one episode in specific that I will never forget. One of the sons has just had their first baby, a little girl, and she would be the first granddaughter of the family. At first the new grandma is swooped up in the excitement but soon the son notices a certain twinkle in her eye going out as the tears start welling in her eyes.  When all of a sudden he remembers who’s missing and the affect that is having on his mom. He takes her aside and puts his arms around her and says, “Are you Ok mom?” She smiles and says, “Oh yes son, she is beautiful.” Then he wisely opens the door to her heart by saying, “You’re thinking about dad, aren’t you mom.” She so eloquently says it perfectly, “Son, I’m learning that from now on the happiest days of my life are going to be shared with the saddest days of my life.”

And for me, today, at my granddaughters 1st birthday party, I felt that exact same way.

The day started like any other day. I woke up excited to celebrate the sweetest, most adorable grand daughters 1st birthday. It could not be a more exciting day. The sun was shining, I was making food for the guests, wrapping presents…then all of a sudden a shadow of sadness started to creep in. I began to reminisce about years gone by. Being married at 20. Having 2 beautiful children by 25. Divorced by 31. Remarried and became a Step Mom at 35. Became a widow at 48. Remarried again at 53.  What next? A life I never dreamed.  It’s almost too much to bear.

But then I realized in one day in a small park in Otsego MN I would be faced with all my regrets, all my losses, and all my pain, all in one moment. My former husband and wife would be there celebrating our grand daughter, his parents and family who I loved like my own would be attending as well. The thoughts of how different this day would have been if we had never divorced. How exciting it could have been to celebrate the legacy of family, a picture of strength and commitment. Instead it was all remnants of what “could have been”.  Then there were my stepchildren. I can’t imagine life without them but they reflect the obvious “empty chair” in the room that should be “Papa J”.  The pain of knowing he is not here to hold his little grandchild on her birthday is a pain I cannot even describe. My whole body aches without him here to celebrate with me. And then enters my new world, with all the blessings and craziness of blending another family. The bits and pieces of a messed up life thrown together in one moment in time.  These thoughts became so overwhelming I almost didn’t think I could go.

But then I thought of this sweet little girl who didn’t know all my history, all my mistakes, and all my pain. All she knows is that I am her favorite Gigi and she loves me for who I am.  She sees a perfect Gigi who could do no wrong, who brings joy and laughter into her life, who loves her with a heart that is not broken but complete and strong. This is who I am to her. And that is worth everything to me. So wild horses could not keep me away from spending this day celebrating my angel baby today.

And as I was reflecting on my day today and all my emotions, I realized that’s exactly how God, my Heavenly Father, sees me. He doesn’t see a scarred woman with a broken heart. He sees a perfect woman who deserves love, laughter and a happy life. He has never left me and continues to shower blessings over me. He celebrates me every day.

So yes, today was one of my hard days. But it was a happy day as well.  A day I got to see my beautiful grand daughter turn one, with a park full of people who love her because we love each other. And that is one day this Gigi will never forget!! Happy Birthday my sweet Kiara. You are loved more than you know.