It was Good Friday 16 years ago when Meghan and I last spoke. We talked about our weekend plans, her upcoming graduation, her job interviews and of course boys! After all, we were in our 20’s. Hours later, another woman killed her future. It stopped me cold in my tracks, and that one day changed the rest of my life! I am sad and miss her every day, but I choose happiness because tomorrow is not promised.

Coping with grief 10 years laterWhat a difference a day makes

When I think back on the days that followed, her calendar planner stands out in my mind. I still have it, with all the sticky notes and appointments for job interviews and exams. Her college dorm desk was like mind right now. Full of sticky notes and little To-Do lists. Her focus — the whirlwind that’s college just weeks before graduation. Yet, none of it mattered. All the stress for no reason. She didn’t know that, though.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day life — kids, work, activities. It’s easy to get into the cycle of rinse and repeat every single day. It happens to me and I know the fragility of life.

Last week, I was in that cycle. Rinse and repeat. I’m super busy with a business, an infant, 3-year old, husband and all that brings with it. Not a lot of sleep, but a lot of work!

It all came crashing down in a matter of five minutes! I was fine one minute, and on the floor with a life-threatening fever the next. It was a scary enough medical experience to cause pause any day of the year, but the timing of now…the time of year I dread all year….gave me more pause.

My journey with sepsis

Four days in the hospital, and another day in the ER, and finally I’m home with my babies again. Just like 16 years ago, I’m playing the “what if” game again.

Back then, it was “what if” they got stopped at a stoplight a second longer? “What if” they took a different route home. “What if” Meghan sat in a different seat in the car. When you’re grieving you play through these scenarios a hundred times. You can’t erase reality, but it hurts so bad you try.

This time, it’s “what if” the doctors in the ER didn’t run that blood culture? “What if” they didn’t find the sepsis within 24 hours of it setting in? “What if” my body didn’t respond every time my numbers hit a critical level?

We heard words this week we hope never to hear again – ICU, heart damage, and kidney damage. Sepsis is deadly, and that blood test in the ER single-handedly saved my life.

Luckily, I was spared. I’m still recovering and receiving treatment. As unlucky as I was, being only the sixth breastfeeding mom in the US to get this type of bacterial sepsis and mastitis, I’m lucky there won’t be permanent damage. There are many blessings in what was indeed a scary and painful medical experience.

It’s also interesting, the hard part of the recovery wraps up on Meghan’s day. Swallowing pills will be easy compared to everything else. They’ll hopefully remove the “midline” today. It delivers the meds I need to treat the bacteria in my blood on an outpatient basis. Now, I’ll be able to hold my son again! Something I haven’t been able to do for fear he’ll grab it. I haven’t held him in a week!

megs footprints

Why I choose happiness in life

How come I was lucky, and my sister wasn’t? Why was I spared?

I try not to let my head go there, but of course, it does.

I don’t dwell on it, though. Every day, I consciously choose positivity. Despite storm clouds all around, there are rainbows somewhere.

This week, other moms held me up when I was scared about the future! Kind of like the army that stepped up 16 years ago, and held my family up, on the worst day ever! All 2,000 of you – I’ll never forget!

Occasionally, I’ll hear from one of her college friends. People I don’t know, and I love it! People who still remember and still have stories to tell all these years later!

Even though I know tomorrow isn’t promised, I get caught up in life and forget to cherish the blessings around you. I’m grateful for everyone who surrounded us with love and support then and now.

Finding happiness in grief

Easter is a day that brings horrid memories to my mind. I remember my big request that day 16 years ago, blurting out to the funeral home director that I wanted a casket that kept my sister dry! Such a ridiculous request, but he asked me what I wanted. I’ll always laugh at that request.

This Easter, I’ll focus on my family and my angel babies. It was a journey to have both of them. I’m feeling better every day. The storm clouds that made me question the next day are hopefully gone for good! I won’t sweat the small stuff like the makeshift Easter baskets I only managed to put together thanks to Target drive-up delivery. We didn’t get to the Easter bunny this year, but we’ll make it better next year! My kids will never know the difference, but we will have photos to remember the special day together.

Sometimes we sweat the little stuff. In reality, it doesn’t matter! It’s the people around you, the memories you make, and the moments you create in life that matter most.

Being here on Earth every day is a gift. Breathing fresh air again never felt so good! Feeling the sunshine on my skin rather than seeing it through a filtered hospital room window is breathtaking! It’s the little things I cherish.

I still cherish the little things my sister and I did together. The mischief (if you can even call it that) we got into as kids, the games we played, and the shows we put on with the neighborhood kids.

Having a son and daughter now, I look forward to watching their sibling connection grow as ours did. The bond between them is electric! It’s incredible to watch. I hope it lasts forever. Of course, I know there will be the usual sibling spats. Despite them, I hope the bond remains strong. I can’t wait to share with them the stories of their angel Aunt who loves them to pieces from afar.

Our family has a lot to be thankful for, and I’ll focus on that this April 19th! I have to think my little sis had a little something to do with me surviving sepsis unscathed!

We’ll honor Megs by putting smiles on our faces, and focusing on all the positive ways my sister influenced my life. For me, the greatest moment will be snuggling my son again for the first time in a week!

Tomorrow isn’t promised, so how are you going to make today great?!