Here are 10 of the most important moments in my life, in no particular order.
1. Holding my nephew Ryan for the first time. It was in this moment that I learned the true definition of unconditional love. I instantly wanted to protect him, and to be there for him from then on. He was so beautiful and precious. He was a treasure and a gift. My heart was full of emotions I had never felt before. I blocked everything else out and just focused on that little guy.
|October 30th, 2012.|
2. Visiting Laurence, just a month before he died. I knew that I had to see Laurence. I am still thankful and blessed that I was able to do so just a few weeks before he took his final breath. It was up in the air if I was actually going to get to see him. He obviously was not doing very well, and having visitors was a risk. At this point in his disease process, his mind was slipping and he was very weak. My aunt called over to his house, and Laurence answered the phone. She asked him if we could come over- she began to remind him who I was, and through the phone I heard a very strong "Florida". My eyes began to swell up with tears. Laurence remembered me, and our trips to Florida together. She started laughing and said "yes!". We got to see him. Not for long, but enough for me to tell him I loved him. That moment reminded me the importance of family, and of gratitude.
3. Entering the halls of Mercy High School for the first time as a student. There are many things I am proud of in my life, but being labeled as a "Mercy girl" is at the top of the list. My four years there were full of important moments. The interactions I had with teachers and fellow students shaped me into the woman I am today. Although friendships have faded and I am not close with many of my high school pals anymore, it is perhaps more notable the impact that MERCY itself has had on my life. I try to live the Mercy values every single day. My faith is strong because of Mercy. My respect for women and myself is strong because of Mercy. I am me because of Mercy.
|These are some of my friends form Mercy. I believe it was our senior year.|
4. Hearing Melinda Doolittle perform "There Will Come A Day" on American Idol. It was late April 2007 and I was a complete and utter mess. My food addiction was at it's worst and I had also began drinking. My "friends" at the time were horrible influences and enabled my negative behaviors. I spent most of my time locked up in my room. I remember this moment distinctly. I walked into my bathroom, crying, looked in the mirror and did not even recognize myself. The TV was on and Idol was playing in the background. Suddenly I heard a voice singing "hold onto your faith, there will come a day". I walked back over to the TV and watched Melinda finish her song. From that moment on, I wanted to be better, to do better, to feel better. I had relapses, I had times of sadness, but for the most part, that began the healing process.
5. Walking into the Carter household the first day I babysat for them. This is another moment I remember very clearly. Martha was sitting on the steps changing the baby's diaper. Fred was on the couch, sick, and weak. Martha looked up and smiled, welcoming me into their home. A few weeks prior, my mom had called me in tears, telling me Martha's husband Fred had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. It was a disease I knew all too well, as I had lost my grandmother to it, and also knew Sam's friend Amanda had passed away from it. Fred was the stay at home dad, so Martha needed help with the kids in these summer months. My time with MVC was coming to a close so I agreed to help out. I had no idea that Martha, Fred, and their kids were going to have such an impact on me. I think about them a lot. Caroline probably does not remember me from her days as a baby, when I changed her diapers and put her down for naps, but she made my days so much brighter. Lizzy, CeCe and Mary made me laugh, drove me crazy, and gave me hope, all at the same time, sometimes within moments of each other. Lizzy especially. Since the day I met her I've said this but she and I are very similar. Sensitive, worried, caring, motherly, and queens of procrastination. And the boys- Charlie and Spencer- I cannot tell you how proud I am and have been of them since that first day. I adore this family, and I am so grateful I was able to spend a few weeks with them that summer.
|I am totally making this my next #tbt picture. I love these kids. Spencer is missing from the picture because he was 13 and too cool for us.|
6. The night I called my parents because I thought I was dying. Sam and Lauren were at a concert. I opted out because I had a migraine. Which led to my arm going numb, which led to chest pains, which led to feeling like I was having a stroke or a heart attack. To this day I am still not sure if something was medically wrong with me or if my anxiety made things worse, but I think it was a little bit of both. My dad came to get me because I was terrified to sleep alone. I sat on my parents couch and we talked- a lot- about my weight and health. It was something I hated talking about. I knew it was a problem but I avoided it. A few days later, they forced me to go talk to their friend Paula, a doctor. I trusted them to know they knew what they were doing. I felt like a child, but I think that is what I needed. Paula told me about a gym. I joined said gym. I've now lost 51 lbs. All because I made that call to my parents. I am getting healthier and along with that have found happiness and fulfillment.
7. A google search that led me to www.melindasbackups.com . I have written about this countless times so I know you are all aware of my friendship with the backups, but I do believe it was one of the most important moments of my life. It was shortly after I had met Melinda for the first time, and I was searching the Internet for other Melinda fans. I came across that page and joined. Things really started to change when I entered the chat room for the first time. I instantly became close with some of the members. Through the backups I have gained faith, strength, love, support, and wisdom. They have helped break me out of my shell, celebrated my happy moments, and came to my rescue in my not so happy moments. They will always be some of the most important people in my life.
|The first time most of us Backups met, back in 2007.|
8. Deciding to become best friends with Sam. I know that sounds like an odd statement but it's pretty much how it happened: I was at a party with some of my other sorority sisters and Sam and I were out on the balcony. I think at that point we knew we were going to be living together the next year with two other girls. We were friends, but not super close. Until I declared, LOUDLY, on the balcony, that Sam and I were going to be "future bff's". And we did. People have a misconception that Sam and I are only friends because of Idol or that's what keeps us close, which is ridiculous and false in so many ways. Yes, we both like Idol and yes we watch it together and go to tour together but that's not the only thing holding our friendship together. She is literally like my 2nd half. I really cannot imagine my life without her. She has been there for me through good and bad and she's an incredible person. Deciding to become best friends with her was one of the smartest things I've ever done :)
|I am almost positive this picture is from the night I decided we were going to be BFF's.|
9. Making it "official" with Tom. This was actually exactly 6 months ago, even though we were together "unofficially" for about 3 months before that. I'm not really one for labels and anniversaries, but making it official and calling him my boyfriend was important. It has been the best six months of my entire life. We are a pretty simple couple- we get carryout, watch stupid stuff on TV, work out together, etc. Which some people might find boring, but for me it's perfect. If I can be honest here for else a second: I never thought anyone else was going to love me. I never thought someone would find me beautiful or want to spend their time with me. Tom does, and he goes above and beyond to make me feel special. He doesn't even have to do anything, though, I feel special just being around him. I love having him near me. Today, while I'm recovering from the flu, he was here, just sitting next to me while I read my book, and it was perfect. He's the best!
10. My dad's cancer diagnosis. This moment opened my eyes to a whole new world. Until that moment, cancer was something that happened to everyone else, not us. But suddenly our lives were changed. We had to learn all the lingo, we had to accept the fact that we were grieving a loss of normalcy. But at the same time, we were embraced and loved by hundreds of people- all wanting to help, all praying, all sending me the kindest, nicest messages I had ever gotten. It really made me realize that even through the worst moments, there is good, and that each moment really does need to be cherished and held tightly. My dad's diagnosis brought me even closer to my family than I was before, which is hard to imagine if you know us. It made me strong and it made me driven to live and lead a happy and healthy life- for him, for my mom and for me.
These are just 10 of the most important moments in my life. There are many, many more. And there are more to come. The cool thing about life is that we never know when these moments will arise. They just happen. We just need to be open to them.