Looking Back – An Emotional Journey

One year ago today I never would have thought I would be where I am today. Graham and I were moving from our 2,100 square foot home into a 900 square foot rental. I had lost my job and was desperately hoping I would be able to make my new graphic design business work. I was embarrassed we were moving from our beautiful home into a tiny rental but excited about the new neighborhood as well. My emotions were mixed with disappointment and hope and I just wasn't sure where my future was headed.

As we packed our belongings into boxes, sold a ton of junk on Craigslist, and cried (me, not Graham) a few random times about leaving our "forever home" (the home I thought we would raise our kids in), my life was about to change in a way I never expected. While I was too busy giving myself a pity party, God had a whole other plan in store.

Graham and I were making our millionth trip to the dump and to us it was just another day. I will never forget it. Graham was driving and we were joking about how much junk we had accumulated during our time together and how in the world we were going to fit our remaining junk in the new (tiny) house. Looking back at that moment, life was good. In fact, it was perfect. But I was too self consumed to realize it. Moments later I got a call from my mom. I talk to my mom almost every day, so when I saw her name on the caller ID, I didn't think much of it. That was until I heard the shaking in her voice. All she said was my name. After that she couldn't say much more. There was silence on her end of the phone and I started bawling not knowing what was wrong, but knowing something was VERY wrong.

Graham pulled over also not knowing what was happening as my mom tried to utter those very terrible words. I quickly found out what my mom was having such a hard time telling me. My aunt and uncle (my moms oldest brother) had just died in a gas explosion in their home just minutes earlier. While I was selfishly joking and complaining (minutes earlier) about having to move from my unnecessarily large house into a perfectly perfect rental, my aunt and uncle were sharing their last moments together not knowing that God was about to take them.

My heart sunk into a place of pain that I never knew existed. I started to hyperventilate and could barely breathe. I know not everyone might be very close to their aunts and uncles, but Madeleine and Jerry meant everything to me. I have always looked up to their grace and overwhelming love. When you meet people like them, they change your life. We had just spent Thanksgiving with them that year and I can still feel myself hugging my Uncle Jerry goodbye; thinking I would be seeing him again shortly. That same trip I helped my Aunt Madeleine cook Thanksgiving lunch and I showed her the loft Graham and I had considered moving into. They didn't seem like meaningful moments at the time, but they seem to be the ones I remember when I think about their passing. They were just such simple and happy moments.

The days to follow were devastating. The weeks to follow weren't easy either. In fact, it's taken me a year to even write about this and I still get upset as I go through everything that happened. That Thanksgiving I had taken family pictures of everyone and I still cannot look at them. But of all the pain and emotion I have experienced, I have learned something very important. Something my selfish self needs to always remember. There is so much more to life than a stupid house. Or a stupid job. Or a stupid purse that I can't afford. Or a stupid bill I have to pay. Or even a stupid argument I take part in. Because all of those things are temporary. All of those things and feelings only last for a short amount of time. I realized that although I thought my aunt and uncle would live to see Graham and I's children, that God had a different plan; a plan that none of us know or will ever know.

So many times I catch myself feeling envious of those who might have a bigger house than me, or maybe someone else has a cooler job than me, or I find myself getting self consumed or selfish with the wants and needs I thought I would have as a 26 year old. But then I try to remember that life isn't perfect. I try to remember that life is short and I need to embrace every minute of it. It's hard sometimes, I will admit, but it's something I need to constantly remind myself of. 2013 has taught me a lot and I am so thankful for all of it. I am thankful for my (as I once called it) tiny little rental. Because guess what. Not everybody has a roof over their head. Not everybody can go shopping on a Saturday just because they feel like it. Not everybody can go out to eat on a Friday night and then also on Saturday because they didn't feel like cooking. So yes, although I do get caught up in the moment at times, I quickly realize that life isn't a competition in who has the biggest house or the nicest car. Life is about loving your family and friends and trying to be a good person. I fail at times, yes, but all I can do is try.

Fast forward one year. In 2013 I can now say I've been published in two magazines, I started a new job as a web developer, I have given my blog a much needed facelift and met so many blog friends, and yes, Graham and I have decided to sign another year lease in our "little rental" that we once so despised. Life is good. But life is good because I decided it was going to be good. I have worked my butt off and tried to make things happen. Not everything has panned out like I hoped, but that's ok. Because like I said earlier, not everything has to be perfect. And I'm perfectly ok with that:)

Linking Up With:

Living Well Spending Less

33 Responses to "Looking Back – An Emotional Journey"

  • Laura
    December 30, 2013 - 10:12 am

    Great post for going into the new year! I’m sorry for the loss of your aunt and uncle.

    • The Blissful Bee
      December 30, 2013 - 10:35 am

      Thanks Laura! It’s been a hard year, but one filled with lessons for sure :)

  • Gladys
    December 30, 2013 - 10:16 am

    I read your post with tears in my eyes, Amy. So many hard lessons for someone your age to learn. Your outlook is amazing and should be a lesson to all. At almost 70 years old, I forget all the times that I struggled when I was younger. I am afraid that I sometimes forget to be thankful for all I have now and for how lucky I am. Your post reminded me to do that. Thanks so much. Happy New Year to you and yours.

    • The Blissful Bee
      December 30, 2013 - 10:34 am

      I’m so happy to hear this post touched you! That is exactly why I wrote it:) I have learned a lot in a year and theres still a lot I’m learning as well. I hope you have a wonderful new year Gladys!

  • Stephanie
    December 30, 2013 - 12:14 pm

    Great post to go into the new year thinking about. I find myself at times going crazy over the smallest things. It must have been hard to write about your past (and I am so sorry for your loss), but I am so grateful that you did. And it is great to hear that you have a great job now! This really shows that we should be grateful for what we have, even if we think our life is down in the dumps.

    • The Blissful Bee
      December 30, 2013 - 12:20 pm

      Thanks Staphanie – it was something I had been wanting to write about for a long time, but and for some reason the right words just came to me the other day. Thanks for stopping by today and Happy New Year:)

  • Gabbi @ Retro Ranch Reno
    December 30, 2013 - 12:18 pm

    Oh my gosh…I’m so very sorry for your devastating loss!! But it sounds like through your rough times, you managed to keep your head on straight and your priorities in order. That is a very tough task, so kuddos to you for being the person you are! And thanks for the reminder for all of us to be thankful. Hope you have a wonderful New Year! Here’s to 2014! :)

  • Cat in a Wedding Dress
    December 30, 2013 - 1:47 pm

    What a moving post – I stumbled across it this afternoon and can relate a lot to what you said. I find myself being competitive with others – their jobs, their families, etc. All it does it bring you down, and you’ll never be satisfied with that kind of behavior. You’ve inspired me to change my outlook for 2014 and try some new things that will lead to happiness – thank you! :)

  • Krista @ the happy housie
    December 30, 2013 - 1:50 pm

    Wow Amy, your post brought me to tears. You have learned such amazing lessons about life this year- ones that we need to remind ourselves of daily. Thank you for sharing it – and I’m truly sorry for your loss. Your aunt and uncle would, I’m sure, be proud of you to see how you have used it as such a growth experience.

  • Camilla @ Something Is Done
    December 30, 2013 - 2:28 pm

    What a great reminder of the meaningful things in life. I also sometimes get caught up in “little” concerns… all the projects around our house that need doing…the lack of money to buy all the pretty accessories I want, the frustration of being a stay-at-home-mom and not knowing where my career is headed… But at the end of the day no one is going to remember those things after I’m gone. It’s great to get a little perspective sometimes. Thanks!

  • Bethany @ Dwellings By DeVore
    December 30, 2013 - 4:46 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss, but what a beautiful story of how God has used that in your life. Thank you for the reminder!

  • Jennifer Woodward
    December 30, 2013 - 5:24 pm

    Amy, your post is incredibly moving. I’m am deeply sorry for your loss of your Aunt and Uncle.

    Your post today has touched my heart. God has plans for each of us and I too get caught up in what I think are disappointments when, in fact, things turn around a corner toward a direction and journey that I didn’t anticipate. You reminded me once again to let God show the way rather than trying to do it myself.

    Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2014 and that you’ll enjoy many more blessings in the coming year.

    • The Blissful Bee
      December 30, 2013 - 6:01 pm

      Thank you Jennifer for those sweet words! I’m really trying in 2014 to remember this post every day. Sometimes its hard, but it’s something I need to always remind myself of.

  • Pat
    December 30, 2013 - 5:34 pm

    I’m so very sorry about your aunt and uncle. I’ve had a horrible year myself and I’m trying so hard to stay in gratitude. In early June my brother had a heart attack and it was touch and go. The way things played out revealed a definite God deal. He’s doing well now. I was in the process of packing to move during this time…scheduled for 6/28. My almost 16 yr old granddaughter was fatally injured in a freak auto accident on 6/21. I thought the world would end and honestly, I didn’t care. People from church came forward and moved me…such a blessing! I was numb. I don’t remember much about the next 3 months at all. It’s been the most difficult experience of my life thus far…even divorce and losing parents didn’t affect me like this has. Abby loved the holidays, especially Christmas. We tried to do things to honor her and that made things feel better.

    I’m hoping and praying that 2014 is a great year, filled with peace and hope. I wish that for you too!

    xo
    Pat

    • The Blissful Bee
      December 30, 2013 - 6:00 pm

      Wow Pat, you just gave me chills. I am so incredibly sorry for everything you have been through this year and hope you can find happiness in 2014. It seems like bad things always happen in multiples. Just a few weeks before my aunt and uncles death, my brothers best friend (who was also a long time friend of the family) passed away in a car accident. He was so young and had just welcomed a new baby girl into the world. I really don’t know why tragedy happens in multiples, but I can only tell myself it makes us all stronger in the end. Wishing you well Pat:)

  • Bette @ Somerset lane
    December 30, 2013 - 5:34 pm

    Amy that is an amazing post! I’m sorry for the loss of your uncle and aunt and I’m glad you are cherished those last moments with them at Thanksgiving. It’s a simple reminder to appreciate everything to its fullest! Happy New Year! xo, Bette

  • colette
    December 30, 2013 - 5:38 pm

    Amen! I loved this post. You are so right that it’s so easy to get caught up with the “things” in your life, instead of just living and appreciating what you have. I have had some tough losses in my life as well, and sometimes I find myself debilitated by self-pity, but the fact is that everyone has their crosses to bear and there will always be people who are better and worse off than me so there’s no use in comparing. Thanks for bearing your soul and know that you are not alone! PS So sorry about your aunt and uncle… they will be in my prayers.

  • Rayna Vessels
    December 30, 2013 - 5:53 pm

    That is so beautiful Amy. I just cried my eyes out once again. Today is a very emotional day for everyone involved. This was so very touching to see what your life is and what it could be and be thankful for all you have. Thank you.

    • The Blissful Bee
      December 30, 2013 - 6:07 pm

      I know Rayna… I’ve cried like 4 times today. Not even counting this weekend when I was writing this! I think it’s good though. It was really good for me to get it all out.

  • Jorden Mills
    December 30, 2013 - 7:31 pm

    Amy, this had me in tears. I am so sorry for the tragic loss you experienced… nothing can prepare you for that. I think we are all guilty of envy from time to time, but you are right that most of the “things” we are envious over are temporary and don’t even matter. You should be so proud of everything you’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time. You are an inspiration to so many people, and you are beautiful inside and out!

  • Jamie
    December 30, 2013 - 7:34 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this story with us. It is so easy to pick at the “problems” that we have in our lives….the things we want but don’t possess….the great things happening to everyone else but us. I’ve been reminded quite a few times in just the past week that regardless of everything bad that has happened in 2013, My bad things do not compare to having cancer, seeing your marriage fall apart, or losing your job. I’m trying to work on being grateful for the things, opportunities, and people that I do have. I know how close I am to my own uncle and aunt and can not even begin to imagine that pain you’ve gone through this year. I hope that you can always keep those Thanksgiving memories in the front of your mind when you think of them….it is those simple times that hold the most meaning in the end. I appreciate that you let us into your life with this story so that we can all be reminded of what we have and what we should cherish. I hope that 2014 holds great opportunities and happiness for you and your husband.

  • Debbie
    December 30, 2013 - 7:49 pm

    So sorry for your loss! and “Thankyou” for the wakeup call! Heartfelt Story!

  • LS
    December 30, 2013 - 9:51 pm

    So sorry for your loss Amy. All I can say about a loss like this is that the pain and sharpness of it never really leaves..it just changes from year to year and evolves as you do. I lost my mom in early 2007 and am still working through the loss on a day to day basis. If you ever need to talk or vent… Feel free to shoot me an email. Hang in there! :)

  • Amber
    December 30, 2013 - 10:15 pm

    Thank you for letting God speak through you to share these words.

    Inspiring. Thought-provoking.

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Praying for you tonight.
    ~Amber

  • JaneEllen
    December 30, 2013 - 11:04 pm

    I am so sorry about your devastating loss of your Aunt and Uncle. That must have been awful for your whole family. Hard enuf that they died but in such a horrific way. It takes a long time to be able to speak about such a hard emotional experience. I can only imagine how wrenching it was for you. Nothing wrong with not having your nice home or losing a job, it happens to many of us.
    In Oct/2010 my husband had a stroke that changed our lives. He’d been working, making good extra money so we could do more in our “golden” years. All that went bye bye really quick as he couldn’t work anymore and I couldn’t either since I needed to be at home with him. He wasn’t able to drive for several months.
    He’s lucky as his speech wasn’t affected but his left arm, hand and left leg weren’t what they were and he’s left handed. Since then we’ve had a much harder time, even have to visit the food bank now and then. But that’s ok as we have each other, our dear pets, our own little house and a good 2008 vehicle. We don’t see our kids or hear from them as much as we’d like but we know they’re ok and doing well. Sometimes I see other retirees traveling, having a good time and I feel resentful it’s not us. We both worked hard all our lives, raised 4 kids. But then I realize we still have each other after 45 yrs. of marriage, we have our little mfg. home on 1/2 acre, drive a good car even tho it’s older, we take good care of it cause it has to last us for lot longer.
    I’ve only told you what I have cause it’s hard to lose things. But you have come so far and should be proud of your new outlook. It’ll get you lots farther in life in terms of growing as a person. I’ll bet you’ve got your home all fixed up so cute. Thank you for telling us about your life. Wishing you Happy New year

  • Ela
    December 31, 2013 - 7:24 am

    A great post! Happy New Year!

  • Gloria
    December 31, 2013 - 9:37 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. Home is where the heart is. I work in healthcare and see so much sorrow, poverty, illness. I am always touched by people who show gratitude, love and happiness in the midst of their problems. In the long run it doesn’t matter what happens to you in life as much as how you deal with what happens to you. Her’s to a great 2014!

  • Caitlin
    December 31, 2013 - 10:28 am

    Thank you for this amazing post! It came at the best time when I am having such a hard letting go of the little things and losing sleep over things that truly do not matter. Sometimes it take kind words or a great tragedy to help us see the brightness in our life. So thank you for sharing your story, it has inspiring me to talk more openly about the bumps we have along the way. I wish you a wonderful 2014, heres to hoping for a year filled with happiness, cheers!

  • Tanya
    January 1, 2014 - 11:19 am

    I am so sorry about your loss this past year, it is so hard to go thru something like that. You have such a lovely gift of storytelling and writing, together with your design, photography and graphic gifts I cannot wait to see what 2014 holds for you. I am blessed to know you (at least via our blogs!)

    Happy New Year friend,
    xo-Tanya

  • Summer
    January 2, 2014 - 7:50 pm

    Hi Amy, what a beautiful post. I am sorry for your loss and I wish you the best in all that 2014 holds for you and your family! I think your blog is gorgeous and you have done a tremendous job!

  • Heather {Woods of Bell Trees}
    March 4, 2014 - 4:49 pm

    I’m sitting here trying to wipe the tears away before anyone notices. I am so sorry for your loss. This was a very good, grounding post. Thank you.

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