To say that the past year has been a roller coaster would be an understatement. As you know, in mid-January I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer after an 18-month fight. There isn’t a day (or an hour) that goes by that I don’t think of him. But I know that he is still with me and I hope that he is proud of the way we’ve all handled the time without him. Just as I was starting to emerge from the mourning and feeling normal, my family was dealt another blow when my cousin was killed in an accident in March. I will never forget the sinking feeling I felt when I heard my uncle’s voice. It’s at these low points that you find strength in family and faith and that’s what we did. We’ve always been a faithful family, but it seems we turned to our faith even more in those first dark months of the year. But as roller coasters go, the dips start to even out and you can finally enjoy the ride. For the balance of 2013, I really tried hard to enjoy every day and try new things whenever possible. Here are just some of the highlights:
- My sister ran, and I walked my first 5K for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in honor of my dad.
- My mom, sister and I road-tripped and celebrated my dad’s birthday over the most amazing pancakes at the Brownstone Diner. My dad loved pancakes and had always wanted to go to the Brownstone after seeing it on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.
- I enjoyed time down the Shore and finally got to see The Stone Pony with friends.
- I made a good sized dent in the novel I’m writing- here’s hoping 2014 is the year it gets finished!
- Concerts! NKOTB, Goo Goo Dolls, Matchbox 20, Train, and all the other amazing artists at Mixtape Festival but let’s be honest the highlight of the concert circuit was meeting Donnie Wahlberg!!
- I enjoyed several girls weekends with some dear college friends 🙂
- My dad sent me a few signs over the past year. Here’s one of my favorites. In October, I made a visit to a St. Anthony statue (my dad’s name) at a local church and on the way out I saw a Mary Jane wrapper. They were my dad’s favorite; and he’d always manage to take a few when he was checking my Halloween candy when I was a kid. I figured he was just saying “Hi!”
- Football! Lots of Penn State games and I even made it to my first NFL game- Go Giants!
I’m happy to say that 2013 is ending well. I started a new job the week before Christmas and I couldn’t be happier. I have my amazing sister to thank for believing in me and pushing me to “get out there”. I also realized how much strength I really do have. I look at my mom, my aunt and at all the women in my family who have survived and thrived through tragedy and I couldn’t be prouder. I come from a long line of strong, independent, loving women. The fact that they were and are amazing cooks is a bonus. I’m glad I have inherited their amazing traits.
2013 may not have been the best of years, but it was the year I became the strongest I’ve ever been and for that I’m grateful.
Thank you all for being amazing followers, and for sticking with me.
I wish you all the best in the New Year!